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U.S. Denies Talks With Afghan Taliban To Take Place

The White House is denying reports that U.S. and Afghan Taliban officials will hold talks in Qatar.

Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said Washington supported an "Afghan-led reconciliation process" involving the Taliban, but that no meetings between the Taliban and the United States are scheduled.

The Taliban's central command also sought to distance itself from the reports, saying its conditions for talks were a long way from being met.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on February 19 there were no plans "for negotiations with anyone in Qatar."

Senior Pakistani Army and diplomatic officials earlier said the Afghan Taliban had indicated they were willing to start peace talks with U.S. officials in Qatar as early as February 19.

A Pakistani military official said army chief of staff Raheel Sharif told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this week during a visit to Kabul that the Taliban was willing to begin negotiations in March.

There have been several unsuccessful attempts in recent years for talks between U.S. and Taliban officials aimed at ending the 13-year conflict in Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP