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Arrest of Taliban leaders halted secret talks with UN: Eide

world Updated: Mar 19, 2010 13:30 IST

A top UN official has raised question marks over the motives of Pakistan's recent arrest of leading Taliban commanders saying the action had halted the world body's secret talks with the insurgents.

"Face to face talks were held with senior Taliban figures in Dubai and other locations" said Kai Eide, who stepped down last week as UN Secretary General's Special Envoy in Afghanistan.

The veteran Norwegian diplomat said he believed that the talks had been given the go ahead by the Taliban supreme leader Mulla Omar and were progressing well.

"But now it would take weeks, months or even longer to establish confidence on both sides to move forward and to establish the red lines in any process" the diplomat said in an interview to BBC from his home in Oslo.

He said, the communications picked up when the election process was over in Afghanistan and it continued to gain momentum until a certain moment few weeks ago, an apparent reference to arrest of Taliban No 2 Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar.

"The effect of (the arrests), in total, certainly was negative on our possibilities to continue the political process that we saw so necessary at that particular juncture" Eide said.

"The Pakistanis did not play the role they should have played.... they must have known who they were, what kind of role they were playing, and you see the result today" the former UN envoy said.

The Norwegian diplomat is the second major figure to have questioned Pakistan's motive, earlier this week, a top aide of Afghan President had told AP that Baradar's detention had infuriated Karzai.

The aide said, that Afghans were livid that the arrests had come when Baradar had given a green light to Taliban's participation in a three day 'peace jirga' to be hosted by Karzai next month.

Afghan watchers have linked the swoop on the Taliban, specially the members of so-called Quetta Shura as an attempt by Pakistan to jockey for a place in peace process with Taliban to give Islamabad leverage in future set up in Kabul.

Kai Eide said, there were now many channels of communication open with the Taliban including those involving senior representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

BBC said, Pakistan's military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas denied Pakistan had moved against Taliban to stop any talks.