Afghan President Hamid Karzai gestures during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on January 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO/JOHANNES EISELE
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A leading Taliban peace negotiator has been placed under house arrest in the United Arab Emirates, officials said on Thursday, dealing a blow to President Hamid Karzai's efforts to jump-start a nascent Afghan peace process before leaving office.Agha Jan Mutassim, a finance minister during Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, has been missing for over a week, according to the Afghan government, disappearing after arranging a meeting in Dubai between Afghan and Taliban officials in February. The Taliban leadership's willingness to hold talks only with Western or Arab officials has angered Karzai.In March, Mutassim, once a powerful figure in the Taliban political committee but whose links to the group are now unclear, brought 16 high-ranking former and current Taliban figures and Afghan peace council members together in Dubai, Afghan officials told Reuters.
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