KABUL — Representatives of a militant group linked to an infamous Afghan warlord are hoping to convince U.N. officials Thursday that it’s the right time for a peace deal with insurgents.

Mohammad Daoud Abedi, a spokesman for the Hizb-i-Islami faction, said Wednesday night that the United Nations asked the delegation for a meeting, which follows talks that the Taliban-linked group had with President Hamid Karzai earlier this week.

Talk about possible reconciliation with insurgent groups, however, has not reduced violence, especially in southern Afghanistan where a major military operation is under way to rout the Taliban from parts of Helmand province. NATO said two service members were killed Wednesday in a bombing, and another died as a result of small-arms attack, in the south.

It is the first time that high-ranking representatives of the insurgent group, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, have traveled to Kabul to discuss peace. It’s uncertain whether the talks with Hekmatyar’s group will lead to an end game in the eight-year war, given the group’s demand for a quick exit of foreign forces.

Hizb-i-Islami wants international forces to begin withdrawing in July – a year ahead of President Obama’s desired deadline to begin a pullout, if conditions allow. But Abedi said the group is flexible on that main point of its 15-point peace offer.

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