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Confusion over Afghan militant transfer deal

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Hunting the Taliban
  • Afghan government says deal reached to transfer detained Afghan Taliban leader
  • Pakistani government denies agreement to hand over Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
  • Baradar's presence in Afghanistan would mean U.S. having direct access to militant
  • His arrest in Karachi seen as major stride in war against Taliban
  • The Taliban
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- An Afghan government official said a tentative agreement was reached Wednesday to transfer a detained Afghan Taliban military leader from Pakistan to Afghanistan, but Pakistan quickly denied the assertion.

An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashari told CNN that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is to be handed over to Afghanistan as part of a prisoner swap between the two countries.

The agreement, reached in Islamabad, still needs to be reviewed by legal authorities in both countries, and once they've signed off on it, the exchange will start, Bashari said.

Baradar's presence in Afghanistan would mean U.S. authorities would have direct access to the militant, whose recent arrest in the Pakistani city of Karachi earlier this month has been seen as a major stride in the war against the Taliban.

However, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik told CNN there is no agreement to hand over Baradar as part of a prisoner swap and Afghanistan has not made a formal request for Baradar to be extradited.

"No such agreement has been reached between the two governments and no formal request has been received for the handing over of Mullah Baradar by the Pakistani government," he said.

"A prisoner swap was discussed but the Afghan Taliban we arrested are not prisoners. They have been detained and are being interrogated. We are examining if they've committed any crimes in Pakistan. Once they've gone through the legal scrutiny in Pakistan then we will consider any requests by the Afghan government to hand them over."

CNN's Ben Wedeman and Matiullah Mati in Kabul and Reza Sayah and Kiran Khalid in Islamabad contributed to this report.