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The Financial Express

Afghan Taliban willing to hold talks to end 17-year war

| Updated: February 15, 2018 21:55:46


Members of the Taliban stand at the site of the execution of three men in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, April 18, 2015. (Reuters file photo used for representational purpose) Members of the Taliban stand at the site of the execution of three men in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, April 18, 2015. (Reuters file photo used for representational purpose)

The Taliban said, in a rare statement to the American people that they want to end Afghanistan’s 17-year war through talks, while warning the message should not be seen as a sign of weakness and the fight against US forces would go on.

A more aggressive US strategy in Afghanistan including a surge in air strikes introduced by President Donald Trump in August has pushed the Taliban back from several district centres and two provincial capitals.

But the militants control large parts of the countryside and they have responded to the more aggressive US strategy with two attacks in Kabul in the past few weeks, killing nearly 150 people, says a Reuters report.

The attacks have toughened both the US and Afghan governments’ stand against initiating talks with the insurgents, although neither side seems capable of winning the conflict.

“Our preference is to solve the Afghan issue through peaceful dialogue,” the Taliban said.

The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and defeat the US-backed government, said the United States must end its ‘occupation’ and accept the Taliban right to form a government ‘consistent with the beliefs of our people’.

In their statement, the Taliban did not mention a Jan 27 raid on a top Kabul hotel, in which more than 30 people were killed, nor a bomb attack on a crowded street a week later that killed more than 100. They claimed both attacks.

The militants only mentioned the Afghan government to deride it on various grounds.

 A government spokesman declined to comment on the statement.

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