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US denies Afghan president Hamid Karzai's assertion that the Taliban and the US have reopened reconciliation talks.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai claimed on March 10 that the Taliban and the US had resumed reconciliation talks in Qatar, a charge both the US and Taliban representatives forcibly denied.
"Senior leaders of the Taliban and the Americans are engaged in talks in the Gulf state on a daily basis," said Karzai to an International Women's Day gathering, reported Reuters.
A news conference between Karzai and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was canceled today on the heels of the allegations, Fox News reported.
US officials said the news conference was scheduled due to a security threat, but the two men plan to meet privately.
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Nineteen people were killed by suicide bombs in both Kabul and Khost on March 9, notes AFP, driving Karzai to claim that the Taliban was playing both sides of the conflict, attacking Afghans while negotiating with Americans.
"The Taliban said they wanted to show their strength (by launching the attacks)," said Karzai, according to AFP. "This is while the leaders of the Taliban, their representatives, are every day at meetings with the Americans abroad.
"We know about it, both the foreigners tell us about it and the Taliban. In Europe as well as in Gulf countries, the Taliban and the Americans and foreigners are in talks on a daily basis."
According to AAP, Karzai claimed that the attacks were being used as a Taliban effort to make the 2014 draw-down of US troops less palatable to the Afghan government, claiming that "they are trying to frighten us."
"This is simply incorrect," said a US official anonymously to Reuters of the remarks. "We continue to support an Afghan-led process of political reconciliation."
Karzai's opinion towards the Taliban last hit the news in mid-February, when he reportedly met with a mullah associated with the Taliban, in an effort to convince the insurgent group to re-open peace negotiations.