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Pakistan Can't Confirm Mullah Omar's Death

Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar, undated
Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar, undated

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry has issued its first official statement about the reported death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, saying Islamabad can neither confirm nor reject the reports.

The statement was issued by Foreign Ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah at a press conference in Islamabad.

Khalilullah said Pakistani authorities are still investigating the July 29 announcement by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office that Omar died of an illness in 2013 at a hospital in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi.

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security said in its statement that Mullah Omar had died at the Karachi hospital as a result of "mysterious circumstances."

Analysis: Can The Taliban Survive Mullah Omar's Death?

Khalilullah would not comment on whether peace talks scheduled in Pakistan on July 31 between Taliban representatives and Afghan government negotiators would still go ahead as planned following Kabul's announcement of Mullah Omar's death.

He said only: "Afghanistan and Pakistan are friendly neighbors, and we want everlasting peace and stability in Afghanistan."

Peace Talks Doubts

Earlier on July 30, the Taliban’s main spokesman rejected reports that a fresh round of peace talks has been planned with Taliban representatives and the Afghan government this week.

Citing media reports that peace talks would take place soon in China or Pakistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban political office, which is empowered to conduct negotiations, was "not aware of any such process."

Afghan negotiators told RFE/RL this week that Pakistan would host a second round of peace talks on July 31 between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives.

But the prospects of those talks taking place has been unclear since Kabul announced that Omar had died.

The Taliban spokesman's statement did not mention the death of Mullah Omar nor the divisions between rival Taliban factions that would be exacerbated by Mullah Omar's death.