WASHINGTON - The Obama Administration on Thursday neither denied nor confirmed the Taliban supreme leader's claim that the insurgents were negotiating a peace deal with the United States."It is for the Afghans to decide on their peace talks, and the United States will support any such Afghan initiative," the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said.
"I don't have anything further to what we've been saying all week, what we've been saying for months, which is that we support an Afghan-led process of reconciliation," Nuland told reporters, when asked about such a claim being made by Mullah Omar. "This is something that the Afghans have to lead. We are pleased to be supportive of that process.
We are pleased to participate as appropriate and when necessary, but this has to be an Afghan-led process," she said.When asked the same question for the second time, Nuland said: "This is not a peace that can be negotiated by us. It has to be negotiated primarily among Afghans."
Meanwhile the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, met his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, at the Pentagon on Thursday during which the two leaders among other things discussed the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"The Secretaries discussed ongoing operations in Afghanistan, as well as planning for transition to Afghan security lead. They touched on multiple regional issues, to include relations with Pakistan and the threat of a nuclear armed Iran," the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, said.