Updated: 05/21/2013 01:19 | By Agence France-Presse

Pakistan's Sharif supports Taliban peace talks

Pakistan's incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday threw his support behind peace talks with the country's Taliban insurgents, saying it would be a top priority for his new government.


Pakistan's Sharif supports Taliban peace talks

Pakistan's incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif waves to his party's newly elected MPs in Lahore on May 20, 2013. Sharif on Monday threw his support behind peace talks with the country's Taliban insurgents, saying it would be a top priority for his new government.

"If Taliban have offered us an option to have dialogue then we should take it seriously," Sharif said while addressing his party's newly elected parliamentarians in the eastern city of Lahore.

"Terrorism is one of the main problems (facing) Pakistan. Establishment of peace in Pakistan is one of our top (priorities) and we are discussing ways and means to establish peace," he said.

Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League (N) won a resounding victory in the May 11 election, is set to serve an unprecedented third term as premier nearly 14 years after he was deposed in a coup.

He expressed support on the campaign trail for peace negotiations with Taliban militants blamed for killing thousands of people in a nearly seven-year insurgency.

Pakistan's umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) movement in February signalled its willingness to enter peace talks with the government but also stepped up attacks against Sharif's rival Pakistan People's Party and its main allies, drastically curtailing their ability to campaign during the election.

Previous Pakistani governments, as well as the military, have forged ad hoc peace deals with insurgent factions in various parts of the northwestern tribal belt, which have often broken down quickly.

The Taliban, who denounce democracy as un-Islamic, killed more than 150 people during the election campaign, including 24 on polling day itself.

Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had said the insurgents would "wait until political parties form their government" but told AFP before the polls that anyone who "comes into conflict with Islam" would be targeted.

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