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Taliban withdraw peace talks offer

PESHAWAR: The Pakistani Taliban withdrew their offer of peace talks yesterday, following the death of the group's deputy leader in an American drone attack, a spokesman for the group said, a blow to the incoming government of Nawaz Sharif that was elected partly on promises to restore security after years of deadly attacks.

The announcement came amid conflicting reports about whether the Taliban had selected a replacement for Waliur Rehman, who was killed on Wednesday.

Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said the group is discussing whether Khan Sayed, Rehman's deputy, will succeed him as head of the militant group's branch in South Waziristan, which would effectively make him the second-in-command.

Ahsan also said the militants withdrew an offer to join peace talks because they believe the Pakistani government approves of the US drone strikes, despite statements to the contrary.

"We had made the offer for peace talks with the government with good intention but we think that these drone attacks are carried out with the approval of the government, so we announce the end of the talks process," he said.



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