Afghan Taliban renew call for talks with US

Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL: As the Afghan government prepares to host 25 countries for an international conference on peace, the Taliban have expressed willingness to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict in the war-torn country.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is set to announce his comprehensive peace strategy with the Taliban at the Kabul Process II in the capital city in front of representatives of 25 countries including the U.S., China, Germany, France, Russia, Turkey and Pakistan on Wednesday.

On the eve of this significant conference, the Taliban have issued a statement, a second of the sort in a month, highlighting their willingness to reach a peaceful settlement via negotiations specifically with the U.S.

“The Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghan-istan calls on American officials to talk directly to the Political Office of Islamic Emirate regarding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary…“It would help in finding a solution if America accepts the legitimate demands of the Afghan people and forward its own concerns and requests for discussion to the Islamic Emirate through a peaceful channel,” the statement said. In a clear reference to the new U.S. war strategy, the Taliban said: “Military strategies which have repeatedly been tested in Afghanistan over the past seventeen years will only intensify and prolong the war. And this is not in the interest of anyone”.

The U.S. war strategy, announced by President Donald Trump last year, grants the American troops in Afghanistan authority and resources for an open-end war unlike the previous strategy with a deadline for the armed engagement.

There has been a momentous rise in violence across Afghanistan since the announcement of the strategy, with the militants increasingly targeting the capital Kabul and the U.S. and Afghan forces intensifying air and ground offensives against the rebels.

Responding to the statement, Shakib Mustaghni, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed Anadolu Agency that the government would present its strategy for peace at the conference on Wednesday.

The first round of the Kabul Process was held on June 06 last year in which participants endorsed the government’s efforts for peace talks, anti-terrorism measures and negotiations with Pakistan.

The Taliban have for long been asserting that they would only talk for peace once foreign troops exit, but now in these two letters their demand has been for direct talks with the U.S. (AA)