Afghanistan: Kabul says ready for talks with Taliban

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KABUL (TCA) — The government of Afghanistan on February 27 said it has no preconditions for peace talks with the Taliban and that it is willing to discuss the issue with the group at a location of its choice, TOLOnews reported.

This comes after the Taliban issued a statement on February 26 saying it was open to discussions with the United States.

Haroon Chakhansuri, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Communications and Media, told a press conference on February 27 that the Afghan government was ready to negotiate with the Taliban “anywhere the group wants”.

“They (Taliban) have twice asked the US and said they are ready for direct talks with the United States. But the Afghan government is telling them (Taliban) that if you are Afghans, come and talk with Afghanistan. The Afghan government is ready to talk,” Chakhansuri said.

In its statement, the Taliban called on US officials “to talk directly to the Political Office of Islamic Emirate (in Qatar) regarding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary”.

Referring to the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells’ recent statement that the US has kept the doors of dialogue open for the Taliban, the group said “it would help in finding a solution if America accepts the legitimate demands of the Afghan people and forward its own concerns and requests for discussion to the Islamic Emirate through a peaceful channel.”

The Taliban also said in the statement that the group made it clear to the US in its recent letter that “war is not our choice, rather it has been imposed upon us. For ending the occupation, we want a peaceful resolution to the Afghan issue.”

The statement noted that “it must now be established by America and her allies that the Afghan issue cannot be solved militarily.

“America must henceforth focus on a peaceful strategy for Afghanistan instead of war. Military strategies which have repeatedly been tested in Afghanistan over the past seventeen years will only intensify and prolong the war. And this is not in the interest of anyone.”

The Taliban’s statement comes just days after Kabul started discussions with the Qatar government to close the Taliban’s office in Doha as it has had “no positive consequence in terms of facilitating the peace talks with the group in Afghanistan”, a senior Afghan government official said.

Sergey Kwan

TCA