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Pakistani Taliban Spokesman Denies Claim Of Government Peace Talks


A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has denied claims by a fellow Taliban member that he is negotiating a peace deal with Pakistan's government.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told The Associated Press today that the group is not involved in government talks.

Ehsan's statement follows a claim by TTP deputy commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad that his men were in talks with government officials to end the group's four-year insurgency.

A third Taliban official, Mullah Dadullah, the deputy chief of the Taliban in Bajauar tribal area, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that Mohammad was not authorized to negotiate on behalf of the TTP.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, asked about the alleged negotiations, said his government is in a "continuing process" to tackle Taliban militants, but refused to confirm that talks were under way.

Any truce between the TTP and the Pakistani government would likely heighten tensions between Islamabad and the United States.

American forces and their NATO allies regularly come under attack from militants who live alongside Pakistani Taliban members, and the U.S. government has accused Islamabad of not doing enough to fight the Taliban's influence.

At the end of September, Pakistan's government pledged to "give peace a chance" and talk with its homegrown militants.

Past peace pacts with the TTP have failed to bring stability.

with agency reports