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Kerry to host Afghan, Pakistan talks

BRUSSELS -- Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday he would host a meeting of top Afghan and Pakistani officials this week on reconciliation with the Taliban and other issues.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his defense minister, along with Pakistan's military chief and foreign secretary, will attend Wednesday's meeting, Kerry said.

"I will be meeting with President Karzai and General [Ashfaq Parvez] Kayani and the civilian foreign minister from Pakistan while I am here," he told reporters.

He said the goal was to advance the peace process "in the simplest, most cooperative, most cogent way, so that we wind up with both Pakistan's and Afghanistan's interests being satisfied but most importantly with a peaceful and stable Afghanistan . . . "

Reconciliation efforts between the Taliban and Afghanistan promoted by the United States have hit several snags, including the assassination of Karzai's hand-picked negotiator, which shattered the little trust that existed between his government and Taliban elements that might be willing to talk peace.

Kerry is in Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers meeting today. He will also meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and various European officials. -- AP

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