KANDAHAR, Oct 9: A brother of President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday his visit to Saudi Arabia last month was part of an Afghan push for the kingdom to convene peace talks with the Taliban.

Qayoum Karzai, the elder brother of the Afghan president, confirmed that no representatives of the militia were present at the meeting although the Afghan delegation had included former Taliban leaders.

“The Saudi king ... wants to help the people of Afghanistan in bringing peace so our trip was in that connection,” Qayoum Karzai told AFP.

“We briefed them about Afghanistan’s situation, we told them about what is going on here, about our misery and asked them to mediate as an impartial country,” he said.

This follows denials by the Afghan government and the Taliban of media reports that the meeting had amounted to peace talks. Former Taliban members have confirmed they were there but said there were no peace negotiations.

Qayoum Karzai said efforts started two-and-a-half years ago for talks to end the increasingly deadly Taliban insurgency, launched soon after the hardliners were ousted from government in a US-led invasion in late 2001.

There had been no direct talks with Taliban so far, said Karzai, who resigned as a member of parliament on Thursday citing illness. “We’re at the very early stages now but we do have hope for the future,” he said.

Asked who was involved, he said: “We are a number of people — whatever you want to call it: a group, some people or a delegation. We’re trying to bring peace.”

President Karzai has long called for talks with the Taliban willing to lay down arms and accept the new government.—AFP

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