PESHAWAR, May 13: The NWFP government on Tuesday claimed a breakthrough in talks with Taliban militants in the Swat district and said the insurgents had agreed to extend a ceasefire till the next round of talks.

The claim was made after a meeting at the State Guest House here between a government team headed by Senior Minister Rahimdad Khan and Bashir Bilour and representatives of the Swat chapter of Tehrik-i-Taliban headed by Muslim Khan, a close aide of Maulvi Fazlullah.

Both sides described their talks as fruitful and said they were optimistic about restoration of normality in Swat and other parts of the province.

The militants had declared a true on the eve of the first round of talks which was held in Chakdara on May 9.

After Tuesday’s meeting Awami National Party’s provincial chief Afrasiab Khattak told journalists that the next round of talks, to be held soon, was expected to lead to the signing of an agreement.

“The government has accepted Taliban militants’ demand for enforcement of Nizam-i-Adl Regulation in the Malakand region, including Swat, within a month,” Mr Khattak said.

He said that a joint committee had been formed to monitor the situation. It comprises provincial minister Wajid Ali Khan, MPA Dr Shamsher, Malakand DIG, DCO, Swat DPO, Maulana Ameen, Ali Bakht, Muslim Khan and Mahmood Khan.

Mr Khattak said that all disputed issues, including withdrawal of troops from Swat, were discussed.

Ali Bakht, a Taliban Shoora member, told journalists that his team had presented seven demands to the provincial government.

“Our main demands are enforcement of Sharia in Swat, withdrawal of troops from the area, release of prisoners taken into custody during the insurgency and compensation for affected families”.

He said his side was satisfied with the talks. He said that the Taliban wanted peace in Swat, NWFP and the tribal region.

Sources said that the militants had also demanded withdrawal of cases registered against Maulvi Fazlullah and his supporters.



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