Truce only when US declares exit timetable: Taliban

Monitoring Desk

MOSCOW: A Taliban official on Tuesday categorically ruled out any immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan, but said it was possible after the withdrawal of foreign troops.

“The political office in Doha is capable to establish a ceasefire all over the country. But our policy is that all foreign forces should leave Afghanistan and for that we are holding talks with Americans,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Suhail Shaheen told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

He said after the announcement of a timetable for withdrawal by foreign forces, the Afghans would sit together to chalk out a mutually agreed agenda.

“When there is bombardment, when there are night raids, when the country is occupied, how a ceasefire can be possible?” Shaheen asked.

Shaheen, said his delegation was in to Moscow to attend a meeting, marking the centenary of relation between Afghanistan and Russia. He added that there was no plan to hold talks with  representatives of  Afghan government on the sidelines of the meeting.

“This meeting is not about intra-Afghan dialogue, it is about celebration of 100 years of relations between the two countries. This was the context. This meeting was only about relations between the two countries — Russia and Afghanistan —  to discuss their ups and downs, and about our expectation of good relations in future with Russia,” he said.

Asked about the talks between his group and Afghan government, Shaheen said Afghans would sit together, only after the withdrawal of foreign forces. He said it was up to Afghan people to decide who should be included in that gathering.

“We are talking to Afghans but not to the Afghan government and that is based on our policy because the country is still occupied. And the timetable of withdrawal of the foreign forces has not been announced, yet. When it is announced, then we will talk and sit together with Afghans and decide about the future,” he said.

Suhail Shaheen also added that the Taliban hoped progress in achieving peace in Afghanistan.

“We see some progress in achieving peace. We can say we hope and expect to reach to a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. That is why we are talking to Americans.”

The Taliban’s spokesman described last meetings with the interlocutors “fruitful”.

He said Tuesday meeting in Moscow was a chance for Afghans to sit together and exchange views about future of Afghanistan in order to resolve the crisis and address to the problems of Afghanistan. (AA)