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March 2, 2018

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Taliban pour cold water on invitation to Afghan peace talks

KABUL: The Taliban on Thursday issued a cool response to proposals that they should begin peace talks with the Afghan government, a day after President Ashraf Ghani offered a pact to recognise the insurgents as a legitimate party in negotiations.

The movement has not yet given any formal answer to Ghani´s invitation, made at a conference of officials from countries in the so-called Kabul Process aimed at creating a platform for talks to end more than 16 years of war.

But its chief spokesman did reply to an “Open Letter” published this week in the New Yorker magazine by Barnett Rubin, a respected commentator on Afghan politics, who urged the Taliban to accept talks with the Kabul government. “Our country has been occupied, which has led to an American-style supposed Afghan government being imposed upon us,” the Taliban response said.

“And your view that we talk to them and accept their legitimacy is the same formula adopted by America to win the war,” it said, adding that the Kabul Process was simply aimed at

seeking the “surrender” of the Taliban. The comments come a month after the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack in which an ambulance packed with explosives blew up in Kabul, killing around 100 people, in the worst attack seen in months.

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