Taliban (file photo:ANI)
Taliban (file photo:ANI)

Taliban to hold peace talks only after foreign troops leave Afghanistan: Russian official

ANI | Updated: Dec 19, 2018 20:41 IST

Moscow [Russia], December 19 (ANI/Sputnik): The Taliban will engage in peace talks with the Afghan government only if foreign troops are withdrawn from the country, Alexander Venediktov, an aide to the Russian Security Council secretary, said in an interview with Sputnik.
"The Taliban movement, which, according to our estimates, has exceeded 60,000 members, refuses to negotiate directly with the leadership of Afghanistan, declaring it a protege of the United States that does not enjoy the real support of the people .... Their leaders say it will be possible to hold negotiations, but only after the issue of the withdrawal of 16,000 foreign troops is resolved," Venediktov said.
According to the official, Taliban militants consider their fight to be a forced response to the presence of US and NATO troops. On Monday, a delegation of US officials launched talks with the Taliban movement in the United Arab Emirates.
Following the talks, media reported, citing Taliban officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, that the US delegation had proposed that the Taliban conclude a truce for a period of six months, join the government of national unity and become part of the political system of Afghanistan.
The Taliban, for its part, demanded that the United States release all imprisoned members of the group, lift the ban on their movement, remove the names of the Taliban leaders from the international "black lists" and also announce a specific date for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, according to the sources.
Earlier on Wednesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid disproved this information. The talks are still underway.
Afghanistan has long been in a state of turmoil, with the government fighting the Taliban radical movement, which has been holding vast territories in rural areas under its control and regularly launches offensives on key big cities. The situation has been exacerbated by the activities of the Islamic State terrorist group (banned in Russia), which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2015. (ANI/Sputnik)