KABUL (Reuters) – An Afghan Taliban delegation will visit Pakistan on Wednesday, the insurgent group said, the latest stop on a tour of regional powers after an Afghanistan peace process broke down.
A delegation of Taliban members, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s founders, will discuss “important issues” with Pakistani officials in the capital, Islamabad, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.
Pakistan supported the Taliban from the group’s founding in the midst of Afghanistan’s civil war in the early 1990s.
The United States and the U.S.-backed Afghan government have for years suspected Pakistan has maintained its support for the militants, as a tool to block the spread of Indian influence in Afghanistan, despite Pakistani denials.
The Taliban delegation would inform Pakistan’s leadership of the factors that derailed the talks with the United States aimed at striking a deal allowing U.S. and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees, said a Taliban official, who declined to be identified.
U.S. and Taliban said last month they were close to reaching a deal, despite concern among some U.S. security officials and within the Afghan government that a U.S. withdrawal could plunge the country into even more conflict and open the way for a resurgence of Islamist militant factions.
President Donald Trump halted the talks with the Taliban last month, following the death of a U.S. soldier and 11 other people in a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul.
The Taliban also planned to follow up on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent comments ahead of a meeting in New York with Trump, that he would try to convince the president to re-enter talks, the Taliban official said.
It was not clear whether the Taliban delegation would meet Khan in Islamabad.
A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani could not be immediately reached.
Taliban officials have in recent days visited Russia, China and Iran.
(Reporting by Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar, Pakistan and Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakimi in Kabul; Writing by Rod Nickel in Kabul; Editing by Robert Birsel)