Pakistan has extended a ceasefire for further talks with the Taliban government

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ISLAMABAD – The Pakistani Taliban on Wednesday said they had extended a ceasefire with the government until May 30 after initial talks between the two sides in neighboring Afghanistan.

In a statement, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Mohammad Khurasani said the talks were being facilitated by Taliban rulers in Afghanistan. Afghan authorities have confirmed talks and an extension of the ceasefire.

Bilal Karimi, a spokesman for the Afghan government, said “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is doing its best to ensure the continuity and success of the talks.”

The TTP is separate but allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan, who seized power in their country last August. The TTP has long fought for the strict enforcement of Islamic law in Pakistan, the release of its members in government custody, and the reduction of its military presence in the country’s tribal areas. They are encouraged by the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan.

Khurasani said the TTP had agreed to extend the ceasefire, which began on May 10, at the request of a delegation of Pakistani tribal elders who met separately with the TTP this week. He did not provide further details.

There was no immediate comment from the Pakistani military or government, although officials have previously acknowledged sending a delegation to Kabul to hold talks with the TTP.

The TTP held similar talks with Pakistan in November at the request of the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan, who encouraged both sides to reach a peace agreement. Afterwards, both sides agreed to a month-long ceasefire for talks, when former Prime Minister Imran Khan was in power.

The TTP has been behind numerous attacks on Pakistani security forces and civilians over the past 15 years. The militant group was also behind a deadly attack on an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that killed 147 people, most of them schoolgirls.

Islamabad wants Kabul to take action against those who use Afghan soil to carry out attacks inside Pakistan. Before the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, Islamabad and Kabul often blamed each other for harboring militants. Pakistan now says it has completed 93% of the fence construction to prevent militant attacks on the border with Afghanistan.

Associated Press writer Rahim Fayez from Islamabad contributed to this story.

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