Taliban refuses negotiation with the selected by the Afghan government
A Taliban spokesman said that the Taliban would not negotiate with the team announced by the Afghan government, in a possible setback in the US-brokered peace process.
The spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that the movement refuses to negotiate with the team selected by the Afghan government because it was not chosen in a way that includes “all Afghan factions”. The Afghan government announced the formation of a team late on Thursday, which was praised by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and described as “complete”.
In February the United States signed an agreement with the Taliban requiring the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, but progress required toward negotiations between the movement and the Afghan government has been delayed by differences between Afghan politicians and a dispute between the Taliban and the government over the prisoners’ release and a possible ceasefire as preconditions for talks.
Mujahid said that the Afghan government’s announcement of the negotiating team had “violated” its agreement with the United States and that all parties had not agreed on the team.
“In order to reach a real and lasting peace, the aforementioned team must be agreed upon by all Afghan actors,” he said.
In response, Najia Anuri, a spokesperson for the Afghan Peace Affairs’ Ministry, said, “This team was formed after wide consultation with the different classes of Afghan society.”
So far, Abdullah Abdullah, political rival to President Ashraf Ghani, has not confirmed whether he accepts the delegation, a move diplomats say is gaining in importance due to his team’s strong influence in north and west Afghanistan.
On Friday, Abdullah’s spokesman declined to confirm or deny whether he would support the negotiating team. His spokesman did not respond, and the US embassy in Kabul did not respond to two requests for comment on Saturday.
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