Pakistan officials say Afghan Taliban signal readiness for peace talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a ceremony for the International Human Rights Day in Kabul December 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
 Senior Pakistani army and diplomatic officials said on Thursday the leadership of the Afghan Taliban has signaled, through the Pakistani military, that they are willing to open peace talks with Afghanistan\’s government as early as next month.
No meetings have been set and previous efforts to negotiate an end to a war that began in late 2001 have proved fruitless, but the signals raised hopes of a much-needed boost for new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Pakistan\’s army chief of staff, Raheel Sharif, told Ghani during a visit this week that the Taliban were willing to begin negotiations as early as March, according to a senior Pakistani military official with knowledge of the meetings.
"They have expressed their willingness [to meet] and there will be progress in March. But these things are not so quick and easy," the official, who is close to Pakistan’s powerful army chief, told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Three senior diplomats in the region confirmed the account based on briefings from people who were at the meeting between Ghani and Sharif on Tuesday.
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