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Pakistani parties back government peace talks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Political leaders Monday endorsed government efforts to negotiate with militants in the tribal regions while distancing themselves from a war that they portrayed as being foisted on them by the US invasion of Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been battling militants in the northeastern part of the country for years who do not recognize the authority of the government.

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Thousands of civilians and members of the security forces have been killed in bombings and shootings carried out by the militants but the war has been unpopular with many in the country who see it as a battle against their own people at the behest of the United States and Afghanistan.

The announcement came after a meeting of politicians from the major political parties at the prime minister’s residence to discuss the country’s precarious security situation. The meeting was also attended by the head of the Pakistani army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s spy agency.

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In a statement after the meeting, the political leaders called upon the government to ‘‘initiate dialogue with all the stakeholders’’ and authorize the government to do what was necessary to bring about negotiations.

The statement also condemned the United States using drones in the tribal region to kill militants.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came into office in June saying he supported talks instead of military operations to bring about peace.

Associated Press

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