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Afghan Taliban Chief Rejects Talks With Government


Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai

A statement attributed to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is again rejecting a call for peace talks aimed at ending the country's eight-year-old war.

A statement attributed to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is again rejecting a call for peace talks aimed at ending the country's eight-year-old war.

Last week, President Hamid Karzai used his inauguration speech to repeat an appeal for talks with militants.

In a statement published on a Taliban Web site Wednesday, the reclusive militant leader says he will never agree to talks that prolong the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. Omar has long held to a policy that rejects any negotiations before foreign soldiers leave.

Omar also takes aim at the United States as President Barack Obama prepares to unveil a new Afghanistan strategy that may include sending thousands of additional U.S. troops to the region.

In a section addressed to the American public and its political leaders, Omar says the United States and its allies will face failure and the "defeat" can not be "averted by reinforcements." He calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

U.S. and Afghan leaders have called for negotiations with Taliban militants who are not linked to al Qaida, and are willing to abandon violence and enter the political process.

Some militants have accepted the proposal and joined government forces, but no major Taliban factions have endorsed holding talks.

Omar also called on militants to avoid causing civilian deaths when attacking Afghan and foreign troops. Taliban bombs often kill civilians and U.S. officials say the militants frequently use innocent people as human shields.

Mullah Omar has been in hiding since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, but he periodically releases written statements that encourage his followers and vilify the Afghan government and foreign troops.

Also Wednesday, the Danish army says one of its soldiers was killed by an explosive device Wednesday while on a foot patrol in southern Afghanistan.

Denmark has lost 28 soldiers since it joined coalition forces in the region about seven years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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