Massoud Hossaini /AFP/Getty Images
Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a news conference in Kabul today.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is disputing reports that his government was negotiating with an impostor when it reportedly held secret talks in recent months with someone claiming to be a senior Taliban commander.
NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Kabul that "Karzai said neither he nor members of his government had ever met the man." And the Afghan president called the reports "propoganda."
This morning's New York Times writes that a man said to be Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, "one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement," had been at the negotiating table with Afghan government officials. But, says the Times, "Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all ... and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little."
The man, according to The Washington Post, "was a lowly shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta." The alleged ruse was uncovered after Afghan officials showed a photograph of the man to people who know the real Mansour, the Post says.
The Times adds this:
"It’s not him," said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. "And we gave him a lot of money."