By Carlo Muñoz - 10/30/13 04:08 PM EDT
Afghan, Taliban leaders to meet in Pakistan for peace talks
An Afghan peace delegation is scheduled to meet with recently released Taliban chieftain Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Pakistan, as Kabul continues to press a postwar peace deal with the terror group ahead of the U.S. withdrawal in 2014.
The meeting was set during a bilateral summit between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron in London this week, according to Reuters.
"The leaders of the three countries spoke about Pakistan's role in the peace process and it was agreed that the High Peace Council delegation would travel to Pakistan in the near future to meet Mullah Baradar," according to a statement by the Karzai government.
Pakistan announced the release Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Afghan Taliban's former No. 2 commander from custody in September, in a bid by Islamabad to kick start the stalled Afghan peace talks.
Baradar has been in a Pakistani jail since his capture in the country in 2010.
Baradar's release is designed "to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process," according to a Sept. 20 statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.
After the beginning of American operations in Afghanistan in 2001, Baradar was the main Taliban commander responsible for planning and coordinating attacks against U.S. and allied forces.
Baradar reported directly to Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar and the Quetta Shura in Pakistan.
But prior to his capture three years ago, Baradar had reached out to the Karzai administration in an early attempt to to get peace talks underway.
Baradar's release and pending meeting with officials from Kabul is the latest attempt by the Karzai government to get peace talks on track before all U.S. combat troops leave Afghanistan next year.
Washington and Kabul have reached a preliminary postwar pact that will guide the U.S. pullout from the country, and possibly set the stage for an American postwar force to remain in Afghanistan.
But both sides remain at loggerheads over Washington's demands for immunity for whatever U.S. force remains in country after 2014.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry predicted Afghanistan's leaders would ultimately accept a U.S. postwar deal that includes immunity from prosecution for American troops.
Lack of immunity for U.S. troops was a crucial factor in the failed attempt to set up a postwar security deal in Iraq, and it set the stage for the recent wave of sectarian violence against Iraqi forces and civilians in the country.
Karzai is set to meet with the Loya Jirga, an assembly of the country's most powerful tribal leaders, in the coming weeks to seek their approval of the postwar plan.