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Fugitive Taliban leader denies talks with Kabul

Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar refuted reports of any talks between the Afghan government and the militants on ways to put an end to the seven year insurgency.

world Updated: Dec 23, 2008 15:33 IST

Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar on Tuesday refuted reports of any talks between the Afghan government and the militants on ways to put an end to the seven year insurgency.

"The truth is that the Afghanistan Islamic Emirate (Taliban) has had no negotiations in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or anywhere else," said a Taliban statement signed with Omar's name and emailed to AFP.

"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 in Saudi Arabia under Riyadh's mediation.

Omar said he had "not received any letter" from Afghan President Hamid Karzai or from the Saudis about possible talks.

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.

Karzai has for years pushed for peace talks with the Taliban as a way out of a deadly insurgency in which foreign militants, including those from Al-Qaeda, are said to be playing a part.

However he has always insisted that his government would only consider talks with "Afghan Taliban" who do not have ties with Al-Qaeda and agree to lay down their weapons and accept the country's post Taliban constitution.

The Taliban, driven from government in a US led invasion for sheltering Al-Qaeda after the September 2001 attacks, have said they would only agree to negotiations if the 70,000 foreign troops helping the government pull out.

Omar, who led the Taliban regime, has been in hiding since it was ousted. The United States has offered up to 10 million dollars for information leading to his capture.