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Afghan government expects direct talks with Taliban this month

The Afghan government expects to hold direct talks with representatives of the Taliban by the end of this month, an official has said.

Ahmad Shakib Mostaghani, the foreign ministry spokesman, said on Sunday that officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States had laid out a roadmap toward peace talks at their latest meeting in Islamabad.

He says representatives of the four countries, who met Saturday, stressed a political settlement to the war, now in its 15th year.

A meeting between Kabul and Taliban representatives within the coming weeks would be viewed as a huge step forward in a peace process that stalled last year.

The next four-country meeting is scheduled for February 23 in Kabul.

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