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'No peace talks with Taliban'

world Updated: Oct 06, 2008 19:04 IST
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The Afghan government said it was hoping for peace talks with the insurgent Taliban movement but denied a media report that a first round of negotiations took place in Saudi Arabia last month.

A spokesman for the Taliban also rejected the US media report that representatives of the militia had met Afghan government officials in Mecca between September 24 and 27.

Afghan religious scholars visited the Islamic country during the holy month of Ramadan and attended a dinner with King Abdullah but there were no negotiations with the Taliban, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said.

The government did however want such talks in order to find a way to end a Taliban-led insurgency, spokesman Homayun Hamidzada told AFP, reiterating a statement made by Karzai last week.

"It has not happened yet. We would like that to happen but how, when and where, by what mechanism and with whose help -- we are working on that," Hamidzada said.

"Saudi Arabia is the leading country in the Islamic world. The president has said clearly that we look up to the Saudi king and if such a thing would happen, we would welcome it," he said.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahed, said: "This is totally untrue. We have not had any talks or negotiations with the government, neither in Saudi nor anywhere else."

Karzai told reporters last week that Afghan envoys had made repeated trips to the Gulf kingdom and to neighbouring Pakistan to facilitate negotiations but nothing had been finalised.