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    Taliban asked to present conditions for talks

    KABUL(PAN): The Afghan government-backed High Peace Council has asked the Taliban to present their conditions that could help the peace process move forward, an official said on Friday.

    The Taliban have been asked to provide reasonable conditions for entering a dialogue process with the 70-member peace council, Ataullah Ludin, a member of the council said on Friday.

    In early June, as many as 1,200 elders and influential people attended the Peace Advisory Jirga in Kabul. The jirga had called for the creation of a council to ensure the reintegration of Taliban and other anti-government elements into society.

    The jirga had asked the government and the international community to pave the ground for talks with all disgruntled individuals and groups. It demanded the formation of a peace council to arrange negotiations with militant groups.

    The Taliban, who are waging a bloody insurgency, have rejected the peace council. They have said until foreign soldiers do not leave the country, the group led by Mullah Muhamamd Omar, would not talk with the West-baked Afghan government.

    Ludin said a delegation representing the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), the second largest insurgent group led by former prime minister Gulbadin Hekmatyar, had presented a 16-article resolution to President Hamid Karzai.

    He said the Taliban should also provide their conditions for talks, asking Afghan officials, NATO soldiers, neighbouring countries and the US to avoid creating obstacles in the way of peace process.

    The Obama Administration has ruled out any talks with the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar.

    "There’s nothing that we know that would suggest that Mullah Omar would qualify,” the State Department spokesman, P J Crowley, told reporters, clarifying the US position on the peace talks.

    Ludin expressed concern at Crowley's comments, saying if the US created obstacles, the opposition's resistance would further escalate which would create more problems.

    "As the US has failed to achieve its strategic goals, they are rejecting talks with Mullah Muhammad Omar," he said. 

    On Thursday, the High Council for Peace chairman Borhanuddin Rabbani said the Taliban have some conditions for talks. He said he was convinced that the Taliban were ready for talks and they had not completely rejected the idea of seeking a non-military solution to the war.

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