Taliban once again rejects Kabul's peace talks offer

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published

The Taliban have again rejected an Afghan offer for peace talks with the government in Kabul. Friday's statement by the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says the insurgents "are not interested in talks while foreign soldiers are still on Afghan soil."

Mujahid referred to last month's statement by the Afghan High Peace Council, a government body tasked with negotiating an end to the nearly 17-year war with the insurgents, which had called on the Taliban to join the peace process. Mujahid also repeated long-standing Taliban claims that Afghan government officials are "puppets."

Taliban leaders have at times expressed interest in holding peace talks but they have refused to meet with the U.S.-backed government, saying they will only negotiate with the United States directly about the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

The Afghan military has resumed operations against Taliban forces, ending a one-sided ceasefire that saw little let-up in deadly attacks. The government announced a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban starting on June 12 and ending on June 20, and then extended it by 10 days. But the only pause in Taliban attacks came during a 3-day long truce from June 16 to 18, covering three days of celebrations for the Islamic holiday of Eid. During that period at least one attack claimed by Daesh killed dozens of people. The Taliban intensified attacks on Afghan security forces, government installations, provincial and district centers across the country after their 3-day truce. Over the course of the last week, more than 60 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed amid mounting Taliban attacks across Afghanistan.

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