Tal­iban let­ter ad­dresses ‘Amer­i­can peo­ple,’ urges talks

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS - B4

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — In a ram­bling nearly 3,000-word let­ter is­sued Wed­nes­day, the Tal­iban urged the “Amer­i­can peo­ple” to press their gov­ern­ment to with­draw from Afghanistan, re­mind­ing them that the Afghan war is the long­est con­flict in which they have been em­broiled — and at a cost of “tril­lions of dol­lars.”

The let­ter was ad­dressed to “the Amer­i­can peo­ple, of­fi­cials of in­de­pen­dent non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and the peace lov­ing Con­gress­men.”

It re­peated the Tal­iban’s long­stand­ing of­fer of direct talks with Wash­ing­ton, which the United States has re­peat­edly re­fused, say­ing peace ne­go­ti­a­tions should be be­tween the Tal­iban and the Afghan gov­ern­ment.

The let­ter promised a more in­clu­sive regime, ed­u­ca­tion and rights for all, in­clud­ing women. How­ever, it seemed to rule out power-shar­ing, say­ing they had the right to form a gov­ern­ment.

“Our pref­er­ence is to solve the Afghan is­sue through peace­ful di­a­logue,” the let­ter said. “Amer­ica must end her oc­cu­pa­tion and must ac­cept all our le­git­i­mate rights, in­clud­ing the right to form a gov­ern­ment con­sis­tent with the be­liefs of our peo­ple.” De­spite in­for­mal and reg­u­lar con­tact be­tween the Tal­iban and se­nior Afghan of­fi­cials, there are no prospects of early pub­lic peace talks that could bring an end to the pro­tracted war.

In the let­ter, the Tal­iban railed against wide­spread cor­rup­tion in the gov­ern­ment and a bur­geon­ing nar­cotics in­dus­try, from which of­fi­cials say the in­sur­gents make mil­lions of dol­lars in taxes and tolls, charg­ing those deal­ing in the drugs to move their il­licit cargo to mar­ket. Afghanistan is the world’s largest pro­ducer of opium, the raw ma­te­rial used to make heroin.

The let­ter as­sailed U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s strat­egy an­nounced last Au­gust that called for mil­i­tary force to bring a more com­pli­ant Tal­iban to the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble.

“If the pol­icy of using force is ex­er­cised for a 100 more years and a 100 new strate­gies are adopted, the out­come of all of these will be the same as you have ob­served over the last six months,” the let­ter said.

In this Nov. 3, 2015 file photo, Afghan Tal­iban fight­ers lis­ten to Mul­lah Mo­hammed Ra­sool, the newly-elected leader of a break­away fac­tion of the Tal­iban, in Farah prov­ince, Afghanistan. AP PHOTO

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