‘Peace in Afghanistan linked with exit of foreign troops’
Kabul, June 23 (IANS): The Taliban on Friday reiterated that peace in the country is inextricably linked to the exit of foreign troops.
It said that if foreign troops leave, its Doha-based political office already has instructions to negotiate and find a peaceful solution, reports Efe news.
“The solution of the Afghan issue through peaceful means is part and parcel of the policy of the Islamic Emirate (the Taliban’s name for itself), should the occupation come to an end,” Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah said in a statement.
In a veiled reference to countries the group has been in talks with, Haibatullah expressed gratitude “to all those who acknowledge the legitimacy of the lawful defensive resistance of the Afghan Mujahid people”, and urged them to use their global influence to compel Americans to withdraw its troops.
Citing the presence of NATO troops as the main obstacle to peace, Haibatullah said the US should resolve the issue through diplomatic means by accepting their legitimate demands, instead of through confrontation.
The message follows the launch of the Kabul Process by the Afghan government, a peace initiative backed by numerous countries and international organisations, but rejected by the Taliban.
The first and so far only official meeting between the Taliban and the government took place in July 2015, but the process was halted days later after news of the killing of Taliban founder Mullah Omar came to light.
The rebel movement has since refused to negotiate.
Meanwhile, the US is mulling sending 4,000-5,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, to join the 8,400 already posted in the war-torn country.