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TTP chief 'open to talks' but not to disarming

mehsud-videoPESHAWAR: The Tehreek-eTaliban Pakistan leader Hakimullah Mehsud said his organisation could be open to talks with Islamabad in a video released Friday, but poured scorn on the idea his men would give up their guns.


Mehsud, who has a $5 million US government bounty on his head, said the militant group would consider negotiations with the Pakistani government but only if it abandoned ties with Washington.


The tape emerged after a spate of high-profile attacks claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in recent weeks, including an assault on Peshawar airport and the assassination of senior provincial politician Bashir Bilour.


"If Pakistan is serious about negotiations it will have to give up US slavery. We will then be ready for negotiations," Mehsud said in the video.


"It is quite ridiculous to ask us to give up arms before entering into negotiations.


"But if Pakistan decides to open talks while remaining US slaves the talks will not succeed because a slave can never take independent decisions."


He accused Islamabad of reneging on peace deals in the past under US pressure, but did not elaborate.


The video, distributed to media organisations in northwest regions, is undated but also shows Mehsud's deputy Wali-ur Rehman discussing the killing of Bilour on Saturday, which would suggest it was filmed in the past week.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012


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