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Saudi halts mediation between Taliban & Afghan govt

Taliban refuses to sever ties with Qaeda: Saudi FM

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says Riyadh has halted mediation efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban because the fundamentalist movement has refused to break ties with al-Qaeda.

Prince Saud al-Faisal spoke Saturday after a meeting with his Italian counterpart.

Last February, Afghan President Hamid Karzai sent a small delegation of former Taliban members to Saudi Arabia to seek help in kick-starting talks with the Taliban.

But the Saudis said the kingdom would not help unless the Taliban severed all ties with Osama bin Laden -- a Saudi -- and his al-Qaeda terror network. That is also a key demand of both the U.S. and Afghanistan.

The Taliban is unwilling to hold formal peace talks until the U.S. agrees to a timetable to withdraw all foreign troops.
Meanwhile, al-Faisal also condemned this week's bombings in Iraq and the attack on a Christian church there, calling the latter "against all principles and human morals."

He expressed "strong condemnation of the attacks launched recently in Iraq, resulting in the death of many innocent souls and injuries to many more, together with the desecration of a house of worship which is not accepted by our religion and is against all principles, human morals and international norms."

The Saudi condemnation came after a spate of car bombings in Baghdad on Tuesday killed 64 people in mainly Shiite areas, and the takeover of the church last Sunday resulted in the deaths of 46 Christian worshippers.

Al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for both attacks.