World News

Afghan Taliban deny meeting U.N. envoy

KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan Taliban denied on Saturday that its representatives had met the outgoing U.N. representative for Afghanistan, after reports this week that U.N. envoy Kai Eide had met militants in Dubai.

“The Leadership Council considers this mere futile and baseless rumors, being a machination against jihad and Mujahideen who are waging jihad against the invaders,” the Afghan Taliban said in a statement posted by their leaders on their website,

The United Nations has declined to comment since a U.N. official said this week that Eide had met Taliban representatives in Dubai on January 8. Eide has denied a meeting took place on that date, but has not commented on whether a meeting might have taken place on another date.

Washington is encouraging the Afghan government to reach out to fighters to find an end to the 8-year-old war. At a conference in London this week, President Hamid Karzai repeated an invitation to Taliban leaders to attend a peace council.

However, the United Nations has not been publicly involved in mediation efforts in the past.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played down any role of Eide, whose term expires in March and who has not always seen eye to eye with Washington.

“I will let him speak for himself. He’s not going to be part of our efforts going forward,” she told reporters in Paris Friday.

Reporting by Peter Graff; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani