May 23, 2016 / 5:35 AM / 2 years ago

Obama confirms Afghan Taliban leader's death, says chance for peace

U.S. President Barack Obama reviews the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam,May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed on Monday the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour and said he hoped his removal would lead to the Taliban joining a peace process.

Mansour “rejected efforts by the Afghan government to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence”, Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

“The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict - joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability.”

Obama, who started a three-day visit to Vietnam on Monday, reiterated U.S. support for the Afghan government and security forces and said Washington would ensure those who targeted his country and its partners would have “no safe haven”.

The Afghan Taliban’s leadership council met on Sunday to start considering succession after a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan targeted its commander, two Taliban sources told Reuters.

Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Paul Tait

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