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Pakistani Taliban commander: Peace talks under way with government

By Reza Sayah, CNN
updated 8:38 AM EST, Sun December 11, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The militant groups control different regions within the tribal area and often have different agendas
  • Pakistan's prime minister would not confirm the talks, but said the government is open to discussions
  • Last month, Taliban commanders said the group was having talks with the government in South Waziristan
  • Pakistani Taliban commander: Political figures in Bajaur district represent the government in talks

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A faction of the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal region is holding peace talks with the government, a commander for the militant group said Sunday.

The Taliban commander said local political officials in the Bajaur district are representing the government in the talks.

He asked not to be named because he's not authorized to speak to the media on the matter.

The Taliban in the district of Bajaur is led by Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, the Taliban's deputy chief.

Appearing on a private Pakistani TV channel, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani wouldn't confirm the talks but said the government is open to talks with the Taliban.

"That is part of our policy, and it's a continuing process," Gilani said.

"From day one, we have been following our policy of the three Ds: dialogue, development and deterrence."

Last month, two Pakistani Taliban commanders told CNN that back-channel talks were taking place with the government in South Waziristan, another area in Pakistan's tribal region. The commanders said a cease-fire was in place there as part of the talks.

Senior figures in the country's government and military have denied the back-channel talks are going on.

The Pakistani Taliban is an umbrella group that represents dozens of militant groups in the nation's mostly ungoverned tribal area along the Afghan border.

The militant groups control different regions within the tribal area and often have different agendas and political objectives. The factions don't always speak with one voice, although it is widely believed they recognize Hakimullah Mehsud as their leader.

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