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Taliban deny their leader sent letter to Obama

world Updated: Feb 04, 2012 18:28 IST
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The Afghan Taliban today denied that their leader Mullah Omar had written to President Barack Obama last July.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said reports that Omar had sent a letter indicating an interest in talks key to ending the war in Afghanistan were "baseless allegations."

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is strongly condemning these rumours and allegations," Mujahid said in an email to media organisations, referring to the Taliban by the name Afghanistan had while under their rule.

He added that the reports were aimed at sowing confusion among Afghans.

Current and former US officials told The Associated Press the letter purportedly from Omar was unsigned. It was passed through a Taliban intermediary and intended for the White House.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the letter and its contents are part of sensitive diplomacy with a fighting force that still targets US troops.

The previously undisclosed communication was considered authentic by people who saw it, but sceptical administration officials said they cannot determine it actually came from Omar.

The Obama administration did not directly respond to the letter, two officials said, although it has broadened contacts with Omar's emissaries since then.

Sources who described the letter did not disclose its precise contents, but one current and one former official said it addressed Taliban willingness to build trust with the United States.

One official said Omar complained that the United States had not done enough to establish good faith for negotiations, such as arranging the release of Taliban prisoners held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

An administration official would say only that the message represented views consistent with what Taliban emissaries had been telling US officials during the clandestine meetings.