Pakistan to meet Taliban for talks

A team of Pakistani government representatives have arrived in the tribal region of North Waziristan for peace talks with the Taliban.

It will be the first direct contact between the two sides since peace moves began last month.

The government team flew by helicopter from Peshawar and are to meet Taliban negotiators at an undisclosed location.

Militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been waging an insurgency in Pakistan since 2007.

Thousands have been killed in the violence.

The talks initiative was announced earlier this year by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, following a spate of attacks.

The government says extending a one-month ceasefire is top of the agenda at Tuesday’s talks.

The militants, who are fighting for their austere version of Sharia law across Pakistan, have repeatedly rejected the country’s constitution. Many observers say that makes any lasting deal unlikely.

The TTP also comprises many factions, which makes a deal complicated to reach.

Since taking office last May, Mr Sharif has come under mounting pressure to bring the violence under control, with many accusing his government of lacking a strategy to deal with the militants, correspondents say.

Earlier this year he said he wanted to end the insurgency by peaceful means, but has indicated that stronger military action will be used if talks fail.

Correspondents say some in Pakistan are worried the talks will only allow the militants time to gain strength and regroup. Previous deals and attempts to engage the Pakistani Taliban in dialogue have all failed.