Taliban say no to Afghan government negotiators

Afghan ministry of peace affairs spokeswoman Najia Anwari said the Taliban’s stance was unjustified as the negotiating team was made after wide consultations among Afghan society.
In this file photo, Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Doha, speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia. After months of deliberation Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced his 21-member team to negotiate peace with the Taliban, only to have his political opponent reject it Friday, March 27, 2020, as not inclusive enough.(AP)
In this file photo, Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Doha, speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia. After months of deliberation Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced his 21-member team to negotiate peace with the Taliban, only to have his political opponent reject it Friday, March 27, 2020, as not inclusive enough.(AP)
Published on Mar 30, 2020 05:52 AM IST
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Kabul | By Agencies, Kabul

The Taliban on Saturday rejected an Afghan government negotiation team set up to hold talks with the insurgent group in a bid to end the country’s 18-year-old conflict.

After months of delays, the government on Friday announced a 21-member team— including five women—to take part in the upcoming talks, a crucial step in bringing the warring parties to the table and getting a floundering, US-led peace process back on track.

But the Taliban in a statement said the government had failed to put forward an “inclusive” team.

“We shall only sit for talks with a negotiation team that conforms with our agreements and is constituted in accordance with the laid out principles,” the statement said.

“In order to reach true and lasting peace, the aforementioned team must be agreed upon by all effective Afghan sides,” it said, adding that the majority of those involved in the “intra-Afghan” talks had rejected the team, without specifying which parties.

Afghan ministry of peace affairs spokeswoman Najia Anwari said the Taliban’s stance was unjustified as the negotiating team was made after wide consultations among Afghan society. President Ashraf Ghani’s political rival Abdullah Abdullah has not confirmed whether he will support the delegation, potentially important given his camp’s strong influence in the north and west.

Several dead as clashes continue

On Friday, militants attacked several districts of northeastern Badakhshan province, capturing three districts and killing at least 10 Afghan security forces, an official said.

Several Taliban fighters were also killed when reinforcements were sent to the area.

Clashes also occurred between the police and the Taliban overnight Saturday in the Spin Buldak district of the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan, leaving six Taliban killed .

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