- Associated Press - Friday, June 1, 2018

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The Taliban say they “categorically reject” a statement made this week by the U.S. commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan about “off stage” contacts and dialogue taking place between the Kabul government and the insurgents.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says in a statement distributed to the media on Friday that Gen. John Nicholson’s remarks, made to reporters at the Pentagon from his Kabul office, were a “baseless claim.”

Nicholson said Wednesday that “mid-level, senior-level Taliban leaders” are “engaging with Afghans,” adding that unspecified international organizations, foreign governments and other interested parties also are involved.

Mujahid says that “American General Nicholson is making such fabricated statements to divert attention from his failures and keep the Washington media busy with false claims instead of exposing the failed Trump (administration’s) strategy” in Afghanistan.

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