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Afghan Leader Denies Meeting 'Top Taliban Negotiator'

Afghan President Hamid Karzai addresses a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul on November 23.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has denied meeting a man pretending to be a top Taliban leader, as reported by U.S. media.

"The New York Times" has reported that a man claiming to be Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders of the Taliban, was in fact an impostor.

"The Washington Post" said the man was a shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta.

NATO and Afghan officials told the "Times" that they met the fake Taliban leader three times, and that he was flown to Kabul on a NATO aircraft and ushered into the presidential palace to meet Karzai.

A Western diplomat in Kabul told the "Times" the man -- who traveled from Pakistan -- was given "a lot of money" to take part in the talks.

One Afghan official was quoted as saying the man could have been sent by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency.

Karzai told reporters at a press conference today not to accept "propaganda" from the foreign media.

compiled from agency reports