Negotiator: Taliban is not ready for ceasefire

KABUL (Agencies): Hafiz Mansour, a member of the Afghan government team negotiating with the Taliban, said on Saturday that the militant group is not yet ready for any ceasefire, as both teams prepare to resume talks next week.

Mansour added that a majority of the Taliban forces believe they could seize power militarily, a “dangerous mindset,” he warned the government.

The two sides began talks last year with the goal of establishing a ceasefire, paving the way for a democratic government whenever foreign forces leave the country.

The US had previously reached a deal with the Taliban whereby US and Taliban forces would try to limit attacks.

Although Kabul is leading the current talks, the US continues to play a coordinating role as a major military occupier.

Mansour said that some countries that have helped Afghanistan during the past two decades were willing to help establish an interim government, which would help the government transition from its current form to whatever is agreed upon in peace talks. However, some regional countries oppose the idea, saying the idea of forming an interim government is an ‘American plan.’

In the meantime, Manso-ur said that the US would try to help the negotiating team reach an agreement before the planned full withdrawal of US forces in May, as per an agreement struck with the Taliban in Doha in February.

Mansour said there was no choice but to accept an interim government in the interest of preserving basic human rights.

He said the team would get its final guidance from the government on Mon-day, before leaving Kabul to Doha for a new round of talks set to start on Tuesday.

Earlier, Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh said that Afghanistan is a complicated country, where the rule of one group was impossible, and asked the militant group to participate in government.

Also, US Secretary of State Pompeo in a series of tweets on Saturday defended President Trump’s policy towards Afghanistan and said that all administrations before him tried to talk to the Taliban and withdraw US forces from the country, but added that their administration did it.

“Every Administration since Bush 43 wanted to draw down US troops and forge peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. We did it. Don’t just take my word for it,” Pompeo said. He said that US’s mission in Afghanistan was to combat Al-Qaeda and threats to the American homeland.

“Don’t need tens of thousands of US troops on the ground to do that. We have partners: brave Afghans, NATO forces. We also have the ability to project power from afar,” said Pompeo.

He also lauded the talks between the Afghan governemt and the Taliban.

“No US servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan in almost a year, and Afghans are finally discussing peace and reconciliation among themselves,” Pompeo said, calling it an “incredible progress.”