The Afghan opposition Northern Alliance said it was not optimistic about UN-sponsored peace talks with the ruling Taliban movement announced last week, an AFP report said on Tuesday. The UN special envoy to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, said on Friday that the Taliban and opposition commander Ahmad Shah Masood had agreed to indirect peace talks under UN auspices. However, an aide of Masood, told AFP by satellite telephone from northern Afghanistan that “Mr Vendrell sounds optimistic but we do not see any grounds to be so...We believe this is not something new”. “It has been our initial position to seek peace through talks with the United Nations having the central role.” Previous negotiations, including a round set up by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference earlier this year, have failed to produce results and the bitter civil war continues in Afghanistan’s rugged northeast. Meanwhile, the Taliban deputy information minister, Abdurrahman Ahmad Hotak, on Sunday also said the agreement was nothing new, adding: “We have always wanted serious talks and sincere talks.”
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