Rest of Asia

Taleban say they want Afghan deal

Filed on July 18, 2021
A delegation of Afghanistan's Taleban movement attends a session of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taleban in Doha. — AFP

Taleban leaders are meeting a high-level Afghan government delegation in Qatar to jump-start stalled peace talks

The leader of the Taleban said on Sunday that his movement is committed to a political settlement to end decades of war in Afghanistan, even as the insurgents battle in dozens of districts across the country to gain territory.

The statement by Maulawi Hibatullah Akhunzada came as Taleban leaders were meeting a high-level Afghan government delegation in Qatar to jump-start stalled peace talks. The Kabul delegation includes the No. 2 in the government, Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s national reconciliation council.

The talks resumed on Saturday, ahead of the four-day Eid Al Adha holiday.

Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is in Qatar, previously expressed hopes for a reduction in violence and possibly a ceasefire over Eid.

Akhundzada said that “in spite of the military gains and advances, the Islamic Emirate strenuously favours a political settlement in the country, and every opportunity for the establishment of an Islamic system”.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is what the Taleban called their government when they ruled the country for five years, until their ouster by a US-led coalition in 2001.

Still, there are few signs of a political agreement on the horizon. Battles between the Taleban and government forces are continuing in dozens of provinces, and thousands of Afghans are seeking visas in hopes of leaving the country. Most are frightened that the final withdrawal of US and Nato troops after nearly 20 years will plunge their war-ravaged nation into deeper chaos. With the US withdrawal more than 95 per cent complete, Afghanistan’s future seems mired in uncertainty.

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