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Taliban Denies Involved In Direct Talks With U.S.

The Taliban has denied it is involved in direct talks with the United States aimed at reaching a settlement in Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

In a statement, a spokesman for the militant movement, Zabihullah Mujahid, said news of direct contact and negotiations "are baseless rumors."

On May 17, "The Washington Post" and other media reported that the United States had stepped up direct talks with the Taliban, with a U.S. representative attending three meetings in Qatar and Germany recently with a Taliban figure considered close to the group's leader, Mullah Omar.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 17 declined to comment on the reports, saying the United States has "a broad range of contacts that are ongoing across Afghanistan and the region" in support of an Afghan-led reconciliation process.