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Holbrooke: US Not In Direct Talks With Afghan Taliban

Richard Holbrooke (File)
Richard Holbrooke (File)

Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was commenting on recent media reports alleging "secret" U.S.-Taliban meetings

A senior U.S. envoy says the United States is not in direct talks with the Taliban but supports the Afghan government's effort to persuade insurgents to stop fighting.

Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, denied recent media reports alleging "secret" U.S. meetings with Taliban representatives.

Speaking at a security conference in Munich Sunday, Holbrooke said Washington appreciates Afghan government efforts to reach out to militants who are willing to stop fighting. But, he said, those efforts must be paired with military successes on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says is considering using conscription to help boost the number of Afghan security forces. Mr. Karzai told the Munich conference that he may institute a draft so that the Afghan military and police will be able to take control of security within five years.

U.S. and NATO officials have expressed concern about the pace of training and overall quality of Afghan security forces.

In Afghanistan on Sunday, NATO officials said they arrested an Afghan police commander for alleged corruption and involvement in a roadside bomb network.

A provincial government spokesman confirmed that Afghan and international forces detained the deputy police chief of Kapisa province, Atahullah Wahaab, at his home in the provincial capital, Mahmood Raqi on Friday.

NATO did not identify the suspect but said in a statement that the police commander was involved with the storage, distribution and installation of roadside bombs in Kapisa. NATO said he was also involved in bribery and corruption related to road refurbishment.

The provincial government spokesman insisted Wahaab is innocent. The Afghan Interior Ministry was not available for comment.

Separately, police say at least three Afghan police officers were killed Sunday when a bomb detonated by remote control struck their patrol near the southern city of Kandahar.

In northern Afghanistan, NATO says two soldiers died following a small arms attack. Sweden's military said the soldiers are Swedish and were attacked west of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.