Taliban accuse US of stalling Afghan peace talks

Updated February 05, 2020

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The Taliban have the intention & capacity for a resolution, said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet. — AP/File
The Taliban have the intention & capacity for a resolution, said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet. — AP/File

KABUL: The Taliban lashed out at Washington on social media on Tuesday, accusing the US of holding up negotiations over a potential withdrawal deal that would see the Americans end their 18-year war in Afghanistan.

Washington and the Taliban are still wrangling over a possible deal that would see US troops begin to leave Afghanistan in return for security guarantees.

However, there appears to have been little progress in reaching a deal in recent weeks, prompting the insurgents to saddle blame on the White House and what they say are a growing list of demands by the Americans to pave the way for a deal.

The Taliban have the intention & capacity for a resolution, said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet.

“Negotiation process has been harmed by Trump’s tweet, numerous US demands & quarrel b/w US & Kabul officials. @SecPompeo should refrain from blame-shifting. Our stance is principled & concerted —unlike them,” he added.

The Taliban’s remarks came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the insurgents must make “demonstrable evidence of their will and capacity to reduce violence” in order to reach an agreement during a meeting with Central Asian officials in Uzbekistan.

Taliban sources told AFP last month they had offered to initiate a brief ceasefire of seven to 10 days to help secure a deal, but there was no announcement of the details of the proposal by either party.

The tweet also came days after Zalmay Khalilzad — the US special envoy leading negotiations with the Taliban — launched a new round of shuttle diplomacy by travelling to both Pakistan and Afghanistan to brief officials on the status of the talks.

In recent weeks, the US has been largely quiet on the exact status of the negotiations, while the Taliban have insisted they are prepared to reduce fighting to move talks forward.

The US and Taliban had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing Taliban violence.

Talks were later restarted in December in Qatar, but paused again following an attack near the US-run Bagram military base in Afghanistan.

As talks have fluctuated, violent attacks in the country have raged, with the number of clashes jumping to record levels in the last quarter of 2019, according to a US government watchdog report released last week.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020