DOHA: Afghan Taliban want to be removed from a UN blacklist before considering rejoining peace talks aimed at ending a 15-year war, a senior member said, as their political wing met activists at an unofficial forum in Qatar.

After months of worsening fighting, Afghanistan and its neighbours are trying to get troubled negotiations back on track.

Prospects of the Taliban, having an increasingly strong presence on the battlefield since the withdrawal of most international troops in 2014, joining any talks had appeared slim. But a Taliban member said the group could participate if the UN Security Council cancelled a resolution freezing assets and limiting travel of senior figures.

“We conveyed them to first remove us from the blacklist of the United Nations and allow us to freely travel around the world and then we can think about holding peace talks,” said the Taliban member.


Adviser to Afghan president and former ministers meet Taliban representatives in Doha


On Saturday morning, activists, former Afghan officials and Taliban representatives arrived at a hotel in Doha for a two-day meeting organised by the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

“The meeting is providing us an opportunity to express our views about the future of Afghanistan,” said Zabih­ullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban which itself is hit by factional infighting.

The Afghan government did not send any serving officials but an adviser to the president, Malalai Shinwari, and the country’s former interior minister, Umer Daudzai, were present.

Anwar Ahady, a former minister of finance taking part in the Doha talks, said the Taliban had not yet shown any willingness to engage in direct talks.

“So far they have not proposed any concrete ideas about how to move forward. Hopefully by tomorrow we will know if they want peace and if so what their conditions are,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2016

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