Taliban deny Mansour met Putin in Tajikistan
The Taliban denied reports that representatives had met Russian officials to discuss the common threat from Islamic State in Afghanistan as a British newspaper reported that President Vladimir Putin had met the Taliban leader.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper this week quoted an unnamed "senior Taliban commander" as saying that Putin met Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in September to discuss possible Russian support against threats from the Islamic State group.
“Putin is said to have met Mansour over dinner at a late-night meeting on a military base in Tajikistan in September," the newspaper said.
It quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying the reports were "not relevant".
Mansour assumed leadership of the movement after the announcement in July that the group founder and longtime supreme leader Mullah Omar had died more than two years previously and his death concealed.
Taliban militants have been engaged in a bloody struggle with groups declaring loyalty to Islamic State, particularly in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
But the group rejected its leader Akhtar Mansour had travelled to Tajikistan or had a meeting with Russian officials there.
The Taliban asked media outlets to avoid publishing “irresponsible reports.”
The Sunday Times newspaper also claimed Putin had promised weapons and ammunition to Taliban during his meeting with Mansour.
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