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Taliban reject Karzai claim of secret meetings

By the CNN Wire Staff
February 16, 2012 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The Taliban reject the claim that there have been meetings
  • NEW: Karzai's government only has "propaganda," the Taliban say
  • Karzai tells the Wall Street Journal his government has held talks with the Taliban
  • Karzai is in Pakistan for discussions

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban rejected a claim Thursday by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that it was taking part in secret talks with the Afghan government.

"The Islamic Emirate strongly rejects Karzai's remarks and adds that the Islamic Emirate has never met with the representatives of the powerless Kabul administration, and has made no decision to hold talks with the Karzai government, even in the future," the Taliban said in a statement e-mailed to CNN.

The statement followed a report in the Wall Street Journal in which Karzai said, "There have been contacts between the U.S. government and the Taliban, there have been contacts between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and there have been some contacts that we have made, all of us together."

Karzai's assertion suggested a change in course for peace efforts, because the Taliban has long publicly refused to meet with Karzai's government, and Afghan officials have complained they were largely sidelined in talks taking place between the United States and the Taliban.

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"The last cards are with us. So far, it has been a U.S.-Taliban business. We have not been involved in this so I cannot say what was discussed," an Afghan government official told CNN last month.

In the statement Thursday, the Taliban insisted that "the enemy has only got propaganda left to show off its power, which in reality has been given to them by someone else and only for a few more days" -- an apparent reference to Karzai's government being bolstered by the United States.

"The Islamic Emirate believes that even if somebody claiming to be from the address of the Islamic Emirate has met with Karzai administration, that person is a fake and, like many times before, once again the Karzai government has been deceived."

In a statement Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid called Karzai's government "a puppet and unauthorized," and said "meeting with them will not be beneficial in solving the issue."

"The issue is ... who is powerful and has got the power to make a decision, and who hasn't, and everyone around the world knows that the one who has got the authority in opposition to the Mujahideen (the Taliban) is America," he wrote.

Last June, Karzai said the United States was involved in peace talks with the Taliban, and that representatives of the government and insurgents had been in touch, but that no high-level meetings had taken place.

Karzai arrived Thursday in Pakistan for discussions with President Asif Ali Zardari on improving relations between the two countries and peace efforts in Afghanistan.

CNN's Josh Levs, Nick Paton Walsh and Masoud Popalzai contributed to this report.

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