The Afghan government met with Taliban representatives on Tuesday in Pakistani capital of Islamabad to begin official direct talks for the first time.
According to local media, the meeting lasted two hours at an unannounced location in Islamabad.
The talks started at a time when Taliban intensified their activities after the Afghan government signed a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States, and later inked the same pact with NATO after the Alliance’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission ended at the end of 2014.
Tuesday’s talk was also attended by two “senior” Pakistani officials.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the holding of the talks “a major breakthrough.”
“I hope there will be a positive outcome, which will certainly be very helpful for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he recorded for Pakistani TV during a visit to Norwegian capital Oslo.
Two days of talks will begin on Wednesday, said a Pakistani Foreign Ministry official.
Both sides kept quiet about the details of the meeting.
The Taliban delegation stuck to its key demand for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces from the conflict-ridden country, said a military official to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.
"I can't confirm these rumors right now. We will announce our official stance soon," Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said by text message.
The US pledged to keep an additional 1,000 soldiers in Afghanistan this year, bringing the number of its residual troops there to 10,800 in years to come.
The Afghan Presidential Palace confirmed that a delegation had gone to Islamabad for negotiations with Taliban.
According to the reports, the delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, who earlier held meetings with Taliban representatives in Oslo last month.
“A delegation from the High Peace Council of Afghanistan has travelled to Pakistan for negotiations with the Taliban,” said a tweet from the official account of the Office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“[The] delegation included representatives from all parts of the Afghan society,” the official told Anadolu Agency.
Afghan government has negotiated with Taliban in Qatar, China, Norway and Dubai in recent months to find a way to end more than a decade of conflict in the country
An estimated 40,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan since 2001 as a result of fighting between Taliban and Afghan troops backed by foreign forces.