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Taliban leader rejects reports of peace talks


Kabul : Taliban’s supreme leader rejected reports of peace talks between the militants and Afghan government on ways to end the war in Afghanistan, calling the reports as “baseless” and “planned propaganda”.

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the fugitive leader of Taliban regime, who has been hiding since the ouster of his regime in late 2001, said in a statement posted at a rebel website that his group had no contacts with the Western-backed Afghan government.

“The truth is that Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan has neither held any negotiation in Saudi Arabia, nor in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), or anywhere else,” Omar was quoted in the statement as saying.

Afghan representatives and former Taliban officials held talks in Mecca in September this year at a meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia King Abdullah, to find ways to end the seven-year war.

Both the Afghan government and Taliban spokesmen rejected the presence of Taliban representatives at the meeting in Mecca, but Afghan officials later said that the militants had agreed to attend in the second round of talks to be held in UAE.

Iranian media also recently said that Mullah Omar sent a letter to Saudi king listing preconditions that included power sharing with the government of President Hamid Karzai and the replacement of tens of thousands of NATO military forces with troops from Islamic countries.

“I neither have sent any letter to Saudi King, or to the opposition side (Afghan government) and neither any message has been sent to my address by them,” Omar said in the statement.

“These things that have been reported are baseless and are part of the planned propaganda by some particular circles,” the Taliban’s one-eyed leader said.

Despite the presence of some 70,000 foreign forces in the country, the Taliban-led insurgents have steadily gained power and extended their writ to larger swathes of the country over the past two years.

With no sign of success against the Taliban and their associated Al Qaeda network, the Afghan government has been aggressively pushing for a negotiated end to hostilities.

Karzai recently vowed to protect Mullah Omar if he renounced violence and agree to negotiate peace.

The overtures by the government were seen by analysts as a means to isolate the Taliban from their Al Qaeda supporters, a move that the US and other western allies would like to see.

Omar has bounty of $10 million for his capture offered by the US government. He did not give any conditions for peace talks in his recent statement, but his spokesmen have previously said the group would not agree to any talks until foreign troops pull out of Afghanistan.