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US denies talking with 'terrorists' in Iraq

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the United States was "not talking" with Al-Qaeda or other terrorists.

world Updated: Jan 10, 2006 09:07 IST

The White House has denied that the US government has been negotiating in Iraq with "terrorists" and Saddam Hussein loyalists but acknowledged that it was "reaching out" to those rejecting the political process.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan on Monday said the United States was "not talking" with Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, "other terrorists," or loyalists of ousted president Saddam Hussein.

"But part of our strategy, a critical element of our strategy, is to broaden participation in the political process," McClellan told reporters. "We have been reaching out to the rejectionists."

Washington wants "rejectionists" to understand that "the way forward is the political process," he said.

The spokesman reacted to a New York Times report from Saturday that said the United States has stepped up contacts with some Iraqi insurgent groups in a bid to exploit tensions between home-grown rebels and foreign militant groups such as Al-Qaeda.

Violence has erupted between Iraqi insurgents and Al-Qaeda in several predominantly Sunni cities, including Taji, Ysefiya, Qaim and Ramadi, the daily reported, citing a Western diplomat, an Iraqi political leader and insurgent leader as unnamed sources.

First Published: Jan 10, 2006 09:07 IST