Afghan Taliban want UN sanctions removed

Representatives of the group say they can participate in the peace talks only if their conditions are met.

    Afghan Taliban want UN sanctions removed
    The US, China and Pakistan urged the Taliban to join the negotiating table in the second round of peace talks [AFP/file]

    The Afghan Taliban will participate in the ongoing peace talks only if their conditions, which include the removal of their members from a UN blacklist, are met, the armed group's representatives have said.

    Taliban representatives met with people close to the Afghan government on Saturday and Sunday, in a two-day unofficial meeting hosted in Qatar's capital Doha. The conference was organised by Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international crisis group.

    The Doha meeting is not a part of the official peace process, which restarted earlier this month between officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US aiming to chart a roadmap to peace in Afghanistan.

    "Some preliminary steps should be taken prior to starting peace because without that, progress towards peace is not feasible," the Taliban said in a statement on Sunday.

    READ MORE: Afghanistan peace talks held in Pakistan

    The conditions as set by the Taliban included the "establishment of official venue for the Islamic Emirate; removal of blacklist and prize list; release of prisoners and ending poisonous propaganda".

    Individuals on the UN blacklist are subject to asset freeze, travel and arms bans.

    A senior Taliban commander, who is not part of the conference, told Al Jazeera that "the conditions presented by our representatives in the conference are not meant to express our disagreement with the peace process".

    "To even start mapping out peace in Afghanistan, it is important that we are involved in it, but only if our conditions are met, because we cannot trust any agreements at this point," he said.

    The first attempt to initiate peace talks were cancelled in July after news emerged that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.   

    READ MORE: Afghanistan and the Taliban need Pakistan for peace

    "It was expected that the Taliban would present their conditions because we know that any kind of peace talks between any government officials will not work if the Taliban are not a part of it," Faizullah Zaland, an Afghan political analyst, who was a part of the Pugwash conference, told Al Jazeera.  

    "An effective roadmap to peace would be if people on both sides of the table reach an agreement. The Taliban have set their conditions, but some of them might not be feasible for all the government officials to agree upon, which means this might mount pressure on the Afghan government.

    "There has to be a strong mechanism between both sides to make these peace talks successful."

    The Taliban opened a political office in Qatar in 2013 to facilitate peace talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet, the office closed soon after Taliban representatives raised the flag of their regime, in a move that angered Afghanistan's government

    The Taliban intensified their attacks across Afghanistan after the foreign troops officially concluded their combat operations in December 2014. 

    US President Barack Obama announced in October that thousands of US troops would remain in Afghanistan past 2016, keeping the current force of 9,800 troops, amid a surge in Taliban attacks.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    We explore how Salah Ed-Din unified the Muslim states and recaptured the holy city of Jerusalem from the crusaders.