Kabul [Afghanistan], October 18 (ANI): The al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has maintained close ties with the Taliban despite the Taliban's assurance to the US to cut ties with the group, said a senior UN official.
"Senior figures remain in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives," the coordinator of the United Nations monitoring team for Daesh, al-Qaida and the Taliban, Edmund Fitton-Brown, said Friday during a webinar as quoted by Tolo News.
Tolo News further reported that the Taliban "consulted on regular basis" with al-Qaeda during the peace negotiations with the US. "[Al-Qaeda leader] Ayman al-Zawahiri remains close to the Taliban," he said. "The Taliban regularly consulted with al-Qaeda during the negotiations with the United States and they offered informal guarantees that would honor their historic ties with al-Qaeda."
Taliban however rejected the claims and said that "certain intelligence groups" are attempting to disrupt peace in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in a conversation with US Institute of Peace said Iran wants "the US to remain engaged in the Afghan war and is not supporting the peace process in Afghanistan," as reported by Tolo News
"I think it's difficult to speak about Iran because there isn't one Iran, there are two Irans. There is foreign ministry Iran which says positive things and expresses ideas or makes statements that could be construed as supportive of a peace process, but there is another Iran that would like to keep the US entangled in a war that they would like to be unwinnable," said Khalilzad, as quoted by Tolo News.
Even though the US Special Representative called Pakistan's efforts in the Afghan Peace Process as "positive", External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar warned that terrorism in Pakistan is publicly acknowledged by their own government.
"Terrorism from Pakistan continues and terrorism from Pakistan remains publicly acknowledged by their government as a policy that they are justifying. (It) makes it very hard to conduct normal relations with them," said Jaishankar at an online event hosted by the Asia Society.
He added, "They've blocked connectivity between India and Afghanistan...I think until we address that problem, this challenge of how do you have a normal relationship with this very unique neighbour, is a very troubling issue for our foreign policy." (ANI)