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Central & South Asia
Taliban denies Afghan peace talks
Media reports of meetings in Riyadh are 'baseless propoganda', Mullah Omar says.
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2008 15:46 GMT
This year has been the bloodiest since the US-led invasion forced out the Taliban [File: Reuters]

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader, has refuted reports of talks between his movement and the Afghan government.
  
"The truth is that the Afghanistan Islamic Emirate [Taliban] has had no
negotiations in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or anywhere else," a statement released on Tuesday and signed with Omar's name said.

"All of these reports are baseless and nothing but planned propaganda by certain circles."
 
Afghan and international media have recently reported that talks were being held between Afghan officials and Taliban representatives under the mediation of Riyadh.

Omar said he had "not received any letter" from Hamid Karzai, the Afghan
president, or from the Saudis about any possible talks to end the seven-year conflict which has raged since the Taliban were removed from power by a US-led invasion.
 
Karzai said last month he would go to "any length" to protect Omar in
exchange for peace, even if that meant defying Kabul's international partners.
 
Terms for peace
 
The Afghan president has for years pushed for peace talks with the Taliban as a way to end the violence, which this year has been the bloodiest since the invasion in 2001.

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However, he has always insisted that his government would only consider talks with "Afghan Taliban" who do not have ties with al-Qaeda, agree to lay down their weapons and accept the country's constitution.
 
The Taliban, who were driven from government for sheltering al-Qaeda after the September 2001 attacks, have said they would only agree to negotiations if the 70,000 foreign troops supporting the government pull out.
 
Omar, who led the Taliban regime, has been in hiding since it was ousted. The US has offered up to $10m for information leading to his capture.
 
About 70,000 foreign troops, 32,000 of them American, are struggling against
the Taliban, whose influence and attacks are spreading in the south, east and
west.
 
Washington plans to send between 20,000 to 30,000 extra soldiers to Afghanistan by next summer.

Source:
Agencies
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