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Taliban Denies Holding Secret Peace Talks With Kabul

Former Taliban militants surrender their weapons during a reconciliation ceremony in Herat, August 3.

A Taliban spokesman has rejected reports of secret meetings with the Afghan government.

On October 18, a senior Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that two secret rounds of peace talks had been held in Qatar since early September.

Earlier, Britain's The Guardian newspaper reported that those attending the meetings included Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, the brother of the late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Afghanistan's intelligence chief Mohammad Massom Stanekzai.

Afghanistan's Tolo TV quoted a source from the Afghan president's office as saying Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar also attended.

But in an October 19 statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected any reports of talks or meetings with the Afghan government, saying, "Our stance about the negotiations has not changed."

The Taliban have long insisted on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan as a precondition for peace talks.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa