Taliban: No peace talks until foreign troops gone

Promising dialogue suffers blow as armed group restates demands for prisoner release and expulsion of foreign soldiers.

    Taliban: No peace talks until foreign troops gone
    Afghan National Army soldiers patrol around their base in Logar province last month [Omar Sobhani/Reuters]

    The Taliban has refused to take part in peace talks until the government orders foreign troops out of the war-torn country and releases all of its fighters from prison. 

    The announcement on Saturday came as a blow to efforts to restart peace negotiations in the Pakistani capital Islamabad to end the nearly 15-year-long war.

    "We want to repeat our stance once again that until the occupation of foreign troops ends, until Taliban names are removed from international blacklists, and until our detainees are released, talks will yield no results," a Taliban statement said.

    "We unequivocally state that the esteemed leader of Islamic Emirate [Taliban] has not authorised anyone to participate in this meeting and neither has the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate decided to partake in it."

    Following a meeting of the so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group - comprising representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the US - in Kabul last month, officials had expected direct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban this week.

    Push for Afghanistan peace talks amid Taliban resurgence

    Afghanistan has repeatedly called for all Taliban groups to sit at the negotiating table, though President Ashraf Ghani has said his government will not make peace with those who kill civilians.


    OPINION: Afghanistan and the Taliban need Pakistan for peace


    A first round of direct talks was held last summer in Pakistan, but the process quickly derailed after the announcement of the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar.

    The Taliban, toppled from power in a US-led military intervention in 2001, has waged an armed campaign to overthrow the Afghan government and re-establish its rule.

    The nearly 15-year conflict has killed thousands of people and strained the country's economy.

    Last October, US President Barack Obama announced 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 and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    Syria's refugee crisis has shone a light on sex trafficking in Lebanon, where victims are often treated as criminals.