Four-nation talks on Afghan peace begin amid dim hopes

ISLAMABAD - A fifth round of four-nation talks aimed at laying the ground for a negotiated end to the Afghan war began in Pakistan on Wednesday, as hopes faded for bringing the Taliban insurgents to the table quickly.
The Afghan government declined to send a delegation from Kabul for the new talks, saying its ambassador in Islamabad would represent the government until Pakistan lives up to promises to crack down on Afghan Taliban sheltering on its soil.
The Quadrilateral Coordination Group, made up of officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China, have been engaged in efforts to facilitate direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Taliban, who now control or contest more territory than at any time since they was ousted by a U.S.-led intervention in 2001, have attended none of the group's meetings.
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