There are differing accounts of the scope of the talks, but sources say the Taliban negotiators are for the first time speaking on behalf of the Pakistan-based Taliban group Quetta Shura and its leader Mohammad Omar.
Another Pakistani-based faction, the Haqqani group, is said to be excluded from the talks.
**Afghanistan Begins Disbanding Private Military Firms**
The Karzai government, meanwhile, says it’s begun closing down the operations of private military firms in Afghanistan. Karzai has ordered the companies to disband by the end of the year. On Tuesday, an Interior Ministry official said the Afghan government is now enforcing the decree.
Sayed Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada: *”Based on the President’s decree concerning the closing of private security companies, all measures were taken by the Interior Ministry and other respected security organizations. And now we’ve physically started the disarmament of private security companies all over the country.”*
The Afghan government says it’s taken action against eight companies, including Blackwater.