KABUL, June 29: The Afghan Taliban have denied that they had obtained permission from Pakistan to send representatives to Qatar to participate in initial talks that US officials had hoped would lead to a peace deal in Afghanistan, saying they had acted independently.

In a statement posted on a Taliban website, the militant group said it made “decisions of its own liking in all matters and affairs in light of Islamic principles and national interests”.

“We would like to once categorically state that the representatives of Islamic Emirate did not go to Qatar with the permission of Pakistan,” the group said in the statement posted on Thursday, using the term the Taliban use to describe themselves.

“The Islamic Emirate is completely free and independent in all of its affairs.”

In an interview this week, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, said his government supported a possible peace agreement in Afghanistan, and said it had allowed some Taliban to travel to the Gulf for that purpose.

In a separate statement,  the Taliban said they had sent a representative to an academic conference on Afghanistan’s future in Japan this week, but said the purpose was only to “clarify” its positions.

“As long as the matter with America (talks which are currently suspended) is not addressed, talking with the administration of Karzai is pointless,” the group said. —Reuters

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