Afghanistan: Kabul rejects possibility of talks between US and Taliban

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghan officials on July 17 rejected reports about the possibility of direct peace talks between the US and the Taliban, and maintained any negotiations would be an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

“The peace negotiations will only be held under the leadership and ownership of the Afghan government, but the United States of America can have a facilitator role in this regard,” said the Afghan CEO’s deputy spokesman Omid Maisam.

Meanwhile Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the reconciled leader of Hizb-e-Islami group, on Tuesday said that US officials consulted him about the prospects of holding talks with the Taliban to end the 17-year-long war.

Hekmatyar said: “I told them (Americans) that my suggestion to the Taliban was to enter into inter-Afghan dialogue, because it is good for the dignity of the people and it also helps to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. But if they (Taliban) want to meet you (Americans), I don’t see any problem with it and you (Americans) can jump-start the negotiations,” said Hekmatyar.

This comes a week after US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells met with Hekmatyar in Kabul and discussed a range of issues including the prospects for direct talks between the US and the Taliban.

But a spokesman for the Taliban’s office in Qatar has said that the group had not yet been contacted by US officials, but that if this happened, they would welcome the move.

The New York Times reported on Monday that the US was preparing to talk with the Taliban.

Reuters reported that US officials said the United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, a year after Trump extended America’s involvement in the war.

Sergey Kwan

TCA