ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Afghanistan's ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani held closed-door meetings Wednesday with Pakistani leaders in an effort to end the bitter civil war ravaging his homeland.

Meantime, fighting raged between his troops and the Taliban religious army some 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of the Afghan capital of Kabul, said his spokesman, Mohammed Aruf. No casualties were immediately reported.

Rabbani's troops are trying to capture Tagab, a strategic city that would put them in a good position to gain control of the only land route from Kabul to neighboring Pakistan. Most of the food and fuel available in Kabul is trucked in from Pakistan along this highway.

Rabbani heads an anti-Taliban alliance, made up mostly of the country's minority ethnic groups. He accuses Pakistan of arming and supporting the Taliban religious army, who drove him out of Kabul last year. The Taliban has gained control of roughly 85 percent of the country. Pakistan is one of the few countries to officially recognize the Taliban government.

Taliban officials are not participating in the talks, but Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, a spokesman at the Taliban headquarters in southern Afghanistan, said the Taliban had its own ideas for bringing peace to Afghanistan.

The Taliban, an army of orthodox Muslims who espouse a rigid form of Islamic rule, want Islamic clerics to form a government to bring peace to the troubled country.

``We have told Rabbani to appoint ulema (clerics) and we will appoint ulema and let them decide on an Islamic government,'' said Muttawakil. ``The ulema can solve the Afghan problem.

The Taliban's brand of Islam bans women from working, girls from attending schools, outlaws most forms of entertainment including music and kite flying. The opposition espouses a less strict form of Islamic rule.

Pakistan released few details about the meetings. So far, Rabbani has met twice with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Taliban is not participating in the talks.

It's unclear how long Rabbani will remain in Pakistan.