Washington: The Afghan Taliban have denied reports that senior officials from the group held a face-to-face meeting with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, a US-based monitoring group said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid released a statement posted on jihadist websites on June 30, refuting media reports that two senior Taliban officials -- Sirajuddin Haqqani and Anwar ul-Haq -- had held a meeting in Kabul with Karzai, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Mujahid said he regarded the story as an enemy plot to divide Taliban fighters who are carrying out a dogged military campaign against the government, by making them question their leaders.
"The enemy cannot heal their bitter defeats on the battlefield with such empty propaganda," he said in the statement yesterday.
"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly denies this report that has nothing to do with the truth. It considers it part of the plots by the enemy who on the one hand wants to lift the morale of their morally collapsed forces, and on the other, to create an environment of doubt and suspicion and so that the mujahideen do not count on one another," his statement said.
"However, this effort will not benefit the enemy in any way."
Reports by the Al-Jazeera broadcast network said Karzai had met with Haqqani, who heads the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, at his palace in the Afghan capital as a prelude to peace talks.
Haqqani is regarded as one of the most brutal militant leaders in the troubled region.
Al-Jazeera also reported that the talks had been mediated by Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and the head of its intelligence services, lieutenant general Ahmad Shuja Pasha.
First Published: Friday, July 02, 2010, 10:10