Taliban reject reports about peace talks
The reports a day earlier quoted a Taliban leader as saying their leadership had approved initial peace talks with representatives of the Afghan government and the talks were expected to start in March.
The top former commander, who spoke on condition anonymity, said: “Taliban officials, who had been involved in talks with the Pakistanis and the Chinese, and had sought time for consultations with the senior leaders, have received a green signal from the leadership.”
He also confirmed that “Pakistani officials had advised Taliban leaders to sit face-to-face with the Afghan government and put their demands to find out a political solution to the problem.”
Some leaders affiliated with the Taliban political office in Doha are expected to visit Pakistan soon for discussions to explore ways for the proposed peace dialogue, another Taliban leader said on Sunday. “A small delegation will be visiting Pakistan in days for consultations,” he said.
But Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said the media reports about changes in the Afghanistan case and talks with the Kabul administration were own analysis by the media outlets concerned.
Mujahid said every report and news that lacked Taliban’s formal address or confirmation was false and far from reality.
Every step the Taliban would take toward peace talks would be announced through their formal sources and address, Mujahid said, an apparent reference to the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan.
The statement said the Taliban’s goal was Afghanistan’s independence and the establishment of an Islamic government, for which the rebels had been using military and political means and would continue to do so.
It mentioned Taliban’s relations with various countries, trips to these countries, meetings with officials there, participation of their representatives in international conferences and the opening of Doha office as part of their efforts to achieve the goal.
The Taliban’s statement comes amid ongoing meetings of President Ghani with various political parties, jihadi leaders, influential figures and civil society activists to win backing for possible talks with the insurgents.
Also on Monday, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah confirmed peace talks with the Taliban would be started soon. However, he said the national interest would be kept supreme in the talks and the Afghans would be informed about any progress in the negotiations.
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