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March 29, 2020

Taliban reject negotiation team formed by Afghan govt

Top Story

March 29, 2020

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban on Saturday said they had rejected a negotiation team constituted by the Afghan government for the long-awaited "intra-Afghan dialogue" with Taliban.

"We had committed in the peace accord reached with the US on February 29 in Doha that we would join the intra Afghan dialogue but made it clear that all Afghan factions would participate in the peace process," said a Taliban leader based in Doha.

Pleading anonymity, he said last week they held "fruitful" talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha in which they made it clear again that they (Taliban) were willing to initiate the intra-Afghan dialogue but only if all Afghan factions are involved in the peace process. "Today we were surprised when came to know about the team constituted by the Afghan government. It would be a total negation of our earlier stance if we started talks with the Afghan government now, which obviously not possible," said the Taliban leader. He said their top leadership had decided not to sit with the negotiation team constituted by the Afghan government. "And we rejected the team formed by the Afghan government. There should be a broad based team and needed to be comprised all Afghan factions," he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The News that they had rejected the Afghan team announced for negotiation with Taliban. "As we stated several times in the past, we would never talk to the Afghan government. And today the Afghan government announced it's team for the intra Afghan dialogue, there is no way we would talk to them," said the Taliban spokesman.

He said they rejected the Afghan government negotiation team on grounds that they would never ever hold peace talks with the Afghan government and secondly, they didn't include other Afghan factions in the team for the proposed intra Afghan dialogue. Taliban also issued a statement in this regard. "All our compatriots and the world is aware that the Islamic Emirate has repeatedly shown its willingness to hold intra-Afghan negotiations with all influential Afghan sides in line with the agreement however the other sides have so far failed in putting together an effective, pro-peace and inclusive team," the Taliban spokesman said.

He said that since the Kabul administration has announced a team, they would like to make certain points for their rejection of their team. "The policy of the Islamic Emirate from the very beginning has been that the Kabul administration may participate in intra-Afghan negotiations as a part of other Afghan sides. But as the team is announced by the Kabul administration it thus violates our principled policy and the agreement concluded with America," he said in the statement.

Secondly, the spokesman said that in order to reach true and lasting peace (in Afghanistan) the aforementioned team must be agreed upon by all effective Afghan sides so that it can represent all sides however majority of other sides have rejected the current announced team. "Considering the mentioned points, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan would once again like to clarify its stance that impediments must not be created for intra-Afghan negotiations nor must a single group try to monopolize the issue of an entire country. We shall only sit for talks with a negotiation team that conforms with our agreements and is constituted in accordance with the laid out principles, Allah willing," Zabihullah Mujahid explained in the statement. The intra Afghan dialogue was scheduled for March 10, but it could not take place after the Afghan government refused to release 5000 prisoners of Afghan Taliban.