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An Afghan government-mandated peace council, on Wednesday, urged the Taliban to open an office in Kabul and take part in peace talks to end the country’s 16-year war.
The council said in a statement it wouldn’t set any pre-conditions for negotiations and will let the insurgent group choose its own preferred methods for paving the way to talks, Bloomberg reports.
The latest push for peace with the Taliban, which now controls or contests more than 40 percent of Afghanistan, comes after the US President Donald Trump in August revealed his new strategy for the nation, in a bit to bring resolution to America’s longest war that has cost thousands of lives and about $120 billion.
Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahed, didn’t respond to multiple calls for comment. The Afghan Taliban have long refused to engage in any Afghan peace talks until the US and NATO forces completely withdraw from the war-torn country. The insurgents have also been calling for, among other demands, recognition for their political office in Qatar.
“It’s hardly possible for the Taliban hardliners to say yes to the government’s offers of peace,” Mohammad Faisal Sami, an Afghan senator, said by phone. But “this may help bring some other Taliban deserters or factions, which aren’t deemed as a major threat, to the negotiation table.”
The Taliban’s stance of not engaging in peace talks with the current Afghan government “remains unchanged” and the insurgent group has “nothing to do” with next week’s four-nation dialogue in Oman aimed at seeking a politically negotiated end to the war, according to a VOA report.
Negotiators from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are scheduled to meet in the Gulf state on October 16 this year to revive talks on encouraging the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and enhance regional anti-terrorism cooperation.