Hagel Says U.S. Isn’t Negotiating ’Unilaterally’ With Taliban

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. isn’t negotiating with the Taliban as Afghan President Hamid Karzai alleged today.

“I told the president it was not true that the U.S. was unilaterally working with the Taliban trying to negotiate anything,” Hagel told reporters in Kabul after meeting Karzai. “The fact is any prospect for peace or political settlements has to be led by the Afghans. Obviously the U.S. will support efforts if they’re led by the Afghans to come to some possible resolution if that eventually evolves.”

Hagel held a news conference at a U.S. military base in Kabul after a joint press appearance with Karzai was canceled because of security concerns.

Earlier today Karzai said in an e-mailed statement that the Taliban are holding peace talks daily with the U.S. and negotiations are going on “in Gulf and European countries.” Karzai’s comments are “completely untrue” and “no talks are ongoing,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said by e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Kabul at gratnam1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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