As talk emerged about a secret meeting of U.N. and Taliban officials, the battlefield lit up in Afghanistan, with a joint Afghan-international force and Afghan soldiers exchanging fire when both sides mistook the other for enemy combatants.
The violence flared as a widely circulated news report said that senior Taliban commanders met in Dubai earlier this month with Kai Eide, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan. The meeting reportedly dealt with the prospect of peace talks with the Afghan government.
The United Nations won't comment on the reports, and the Taliban issued a flat denial of what it called "futile and baseless rumors."
The United States and NATO should withdraw from Afghanistan on the basis of success and not set artificial deadlines for a pullout, Britain's opposition Conservative Party Leader David Cameron told CNN Friday.
Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Cameron said it's important to build on and reinforce success rather than set a deadline for a pullout at some point in the future.
"We want to withdraw troops on the basis of success - on the basis of an Afghan national army that's able to take control of parts of the country - rather than believing there are artificial deadlines where we can do these things automatically," said Cameron.