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UN envoy: Taliban arrests halt secret UN contacts

KABUL - The arrests of top Taliban figures in Pakistan abruptly halted secret UN contacts with the insurgency at a time when the efforts were gathering momentum, the agency's former envoy to Afghanistan said Friday.

Kai Eide, a Norwegian diplomat who just stepped down from the United Nations post here in the Afghan capital, said the discussions that he and others from the UN had with senior Taliban members began last spring and included face-to-face conversations in Dubai and elsewhere.

He criticized Pakistan for arresting the Taliban's No. 2 and other members of the insurgency, saying the Pakistanis surely knew the roles these figures had in efforts to find a political resolution to the 8-year-old war. Pakistan denies the arrests were linked to reconciliation talks. "There was an increase in intensity of contacts, but this process came to a halt following the arrests that took place in Pakistan," Eide told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home outside Oslo.

Last month's detention of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second in the Taliban only to Mullah Mohammed Omar, infuriated Afghan President Hamid Karzai, one of Karzai's advisers told the AP. - AP

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