Tal­iban re­it­er­ates call for di­rect talks with US

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL - SYED SALAHUDDIN

KABUL: The Afghan Tal­iban on Tues­day re­it­er­ated its will­ing­ness to hold di­rect talks with the US.

This comes two weeks af­ter the Tal­iban, in an un­prece­dented move, made a sim­i­lar call in an open let­ter to the US pub­lic and politi­cians.

The group says it wants di­rect talks with the US be­cause it, not Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani, has the in­flu­ence, and be­cause it was Amer­ica that top­pled the Tal­iban gov­ern­ment.

In re­it­er­at­ing its will­ing­ness, the group cited Alice Wells, prin­ci­pal deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary in the US State Depart­ment’s Bu­reau of South and Cen­tral Asian Af­fairs, who re­cently said the “door is open” for talks.

The Tal­iban said in a state­ment: “For end­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion, we want a peaceful res­o­lu­tion to the Afghan is­sue.” It added that the US must fo­cus on a “peaceful strat­egy for Afghanistan in­stead of war.”

The Tal­iban said: “Mil­i­tary strate­gies which have re­peat­edly been tested in Afghanistan over the past 17 years will only in­ten­sify and pro­long the war. And this is not in the in­ter­est of any­one.”

The group’s re­it­er­ated call for talks comes the day be­fore a re­gional con­fer­ence in Kabul, where rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 25 coun­tries will dis­cuss coun­tert­er­ror­ism and con­flict res­o­lu­tion.

“I’m con­fi­dent that the con­fer­ence is go­ing to push for­ward re­gional ef­forts to en­force what has been our most im­por­tant mes­sage to the Tal­iban — that the door is open, there is a path to peace and sta­bil­ity,” said Wells.

Ghani on Tues­day said his gov­ern­ment will pro­pose an in­clu­sive pro­posal to Pak­istan and the Tal­iban dur­ing the con­fer­ence.

The Tal­iban urged the US to fo­cus on a peaceful strat­egy for Afghanistan in­stead of war. (AP)

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