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US, Taliban deny plans to hold peace talks in Qatar

 The US and Taliban on Thursday strongly refuted reports that their representatives are to meet in Qatar for possible peace talks on Afghanistan, saying there were no such plans.



Washington: The US and Taliban on Thursday strongly refuted reports that their representatives are to meet in Qatar for possible peace talks on Afghanistan, saying there were no such plans.

"We are not in direct talks with the Taliban, and there have not been any direct talks between the US and the Taliban since January 2012, when the Taliban broke them off," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

"The US is committed to enabling progress on an Afghan- led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process which can lead to a stable and secure Afghanistan," she said.

Earlier, media reports stated that Taliban representatives are to meet US officials in Qatar soon for possible peace talks on Afghanistan.

The White House also denied the reports with National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan saying, "The United States has no meetings ongoing or scheduled with the Taliban in Doha or elsewhere."

"We remain strongly supportive of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process whereby the Taliban and the Afghans engage in talks toward a settlement to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan," Meehan said.

The Taliban issued a strong rebuttal to the reports.

"We strongly reject such reports. We have no such plans of any talks in our Qatar office. The news in this regard were concocted," Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement.

There have been several attempts at starting dialogue in recent years between the Taliban, the Afghan leadership and the US but with little success.

The Taliban had opened an office in Qatar in June 2013 as the first move towards a possible peace deal but it shut a month later following strong objections from then-Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

As the reports raised hopes of peace talks in Qatar, Pakistan military extended its support to the possible dialogue to end 13-year conflict in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan army said all stakeholders should not allow detractors of peace to succeed.

It said Pakistan has always supported such process, and re-emphasised it to be absolutely transparent, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.

From Zee News

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