Pakistan Taliban set conditions for peace talks as seven die

Pakistan Taliban set conditions for peace talks as seven die

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday announced preconditions for talks on ending an insurgency that has killed thousands, as seven more soldiers or police including a general died in insurgent attacks.

Shahidullah Shahid, spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), had earlier welcomed the new government's move to begin peace talks, but said Sunday it must show its sincerity.

"First of all, troops in the entire tribal area should go back to barracks and then our prisoners should be released," Shahid told AFP.

"The Pakistan government must take steps which can develop an atmosphere of trust and can remove the doubts and suspicion. We cannot move forward unless the governments accepts these two demands."

He was speaking after the Taliban's shura or decision-making council held three days of talks about the government offer of dialogue.

Shura members from across the country took part in the meeting and stressed the need for confidence-building measures, the spokesman said.

Shahid did not give a figure for the number of jailed insurgents and did not totally rule out peace talks if the preconditions are not met.

But he added: "The government began a war against us and the government has to announce the ceasefire if it is really sincere in peace talks."

Politicians last week gave their backing to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's calls to begin talks with the Taliban.

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