Taliban nixes Afghan, Pakistan peace talks

The new leader of the Taliban's Pakistani faction is pulling the plug on planned peace talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan, days after American drones killed the group's former commander. 

"There will be no more talks as Mullah Fazlullah is already against negotiations with the Pakistan government," Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman, told Reuters on Thursday. 

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"All governments play double games with us. In the name of peace talks, they deceived us and killed our people. We are one hundred percent sure that Pakistan fully supports the United States in its drone strikes," Shahid said. 

Fazlullah was named the new chief of the Pakistani cell after former commander Hakimullah Mehsud and five other Taliban members were killed outside the Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan last Friday. 

Known as one of the Taliban's more radical leaders, Fazlullah orchestrated the attempted murder of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai last year. 

The 16-year old schoolgirl openly pushed for women's rights in Pakistan and denounced the Taliban's teachings, prompting the group to order her death. 

Yousafzai survived the attack and became a worldwide poster child for human rights in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region. 

But Mehsud's killing and Fazlullah's subsequent ascent to the top spot in the Pakistani Taliban essentially ends any near-term hope for negotiation with the terror group. 

Washington's decision to take out Mehsud just as the reclusive terrorist leader was indicating a willingness to talk peace has drawn scorn from Islamabad and Kabul. 

"The murder of Hakimullah is the murder of all efforts at peace," Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said.

"Americans said they support our efforts at peace. Is this support?" Nisar told reporters in Pakistan on Sunday. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed the same outrage during a meeting with a U.S. congressional delegation visiting the country over the weekend. 

In response, Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated the White House's pledge to back Pakistan's efforts to eliminate Islamic extremists groups within its borders. 

"We are sensitive to the concerns of the country and we look forward to working very closely with the government of Pakistan," Kerry said in a statement Monday. 

However, Kerry adamantly defended the administration's decision to take out Mehsud, who has been a top, high-value target of U.S. military and intelligence counterterrorism operations for the past decade. 

"This is a man who absolutely is known to have targeted and killed many Americans, many Afghans and many Pakistanis," he said.