Taliban say have no intention to end hostilities before intra-Afghan talks

KABUL (Agencies): The Taliban are not going to stop hostilities before intra-Afghan talks, viewing any calls for a ceasefire in absence of negotiations as “illogical,” the radical movement’s spokesman said on Sunday.

“Our stance: Implementation of Doha Agreement & start of intra-Afghan negotiations are necessary so we can work towards de-escalation & end of the war. If anyone seeks ceasefire before talks then such is illogical. War is raging precisely b/c we have yet to find an alternative”, Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.

He accused the government of creating “obstacles” to negotiations.

“The prisoner exchange process must be completed and intra-Afghan negotiations launched immediately. This is the most correct and reasonable path towards a resolution”, the spokesman added.

Earlier in the day, Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi urged the Taliban to stop violence and genuinely join a peace process.

Though the United States and the Taliban struck their long-awaited peace deal in late February, clashes between the government forces and the movement continue.

Direct intra-Afghan talks were initially scheduled to commence in March but were pushed back due to disagreements over the mutual release of prisoners.

According to Tolo news, the Afghan government has asked the Taliban to provide a new list for the prisoners who have not been released so far, but the Taliban has insisted on the release of their prisoners based on an existing list, sources close to the group said Sunday.

The Afghan government has so far released 4,080 Taliban prisoners and is currently refusing to free 597 detainees of the group, which is postponing the much-awaited intra-Afghan negotiations. The sources also said that of the 592 prisoners in question, at least 90 of them are those that even the Taliban is not in favor of releasing.

“This list of (Taliban) prisoners will not change… The Taliban is insisting that the list that was sent should be implemented,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Taliban spokesman Mujahid also questioned hurdles in the way of the talks, saying: “If someone does not want war, why are they creating hurdles for talks?”

He said, “Let Afghans reach a result through political understanding that is the will of the nation and the international community.” Critics said they see something else in the background of the calls for a new list or the emphasis on an existing list.

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