Doors are open if US wants to resume talks: Taliban

Kabul, Sep 18 : The Taliban have said that their “doors are open” in case US President Donald Trump wants to resume peace talks in the future, hours after two attacks claimed by the terror group killed 48 people in Afghanistan.

Peace talks between Washington and the Taliban to reach a deal on the withdrawal of thousands of American troops collapsed last week after President Donald Trump cited an attack that killed a US soldier as his reason for pulling out of negotiations. The talks did not include the Afghan government.

Taliban chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai told the BBC that negotiation remained “the only way for peace in Afghanistan”. He said that the militants had done “nothing wrong” by continuing to fight throughout the negotiations, adding that Americans had also admitted to killing thousands of Taliban during the discussions.

“They killed thousands of Talibans according to them. But in the meantime, if one (US) soldier has been killed that doesn’t mean they should show that reaction because there is no ceasefire from both sides,” he said.

“From our side, our doors are open for negotiations. So we hope the other side also rethink their decision regarding the negotiation,” he added.

At least 26 people were killed in a bombing at a campaign rally for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Parwan province on Tuesday, while another 22 people were killed in another blast in Kabul.

Following the bombings, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement saying the group “must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace”.

The Taliban — who are now in control of more territory in Afghanistan than at any point since US-led forces ousted them in 2001 — do not recognize the legitimacy of Ghani’s administration. They have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government until a US deal is agreed.

Stanikzai said intra-Afghan talks would have started on September 23, had a deal been reached, and would have included discussions about a wider ceasefire.

He also confirmed that the Taliban had approached both Russia and China for help in the peace negotiations.

Meanwhile, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohibt said that Taliban “intimidation tactics” would not succeed. “The only way they can see peace in Afghanistan is by negotiating with the Afghan government.

“Open discussions with our neighbours, those who are sponsoring and supporting the Taliban – that needs to be at the front of our discussions, not the back of it,” he added.

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