Rebuffing U.S. charges that it has failing to curb violence, the Afghan Taliban on Tuesday blamed President Donald Trump for the botched bid for a peace deal.
"Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [Taliban’s shadow government] has the intention & capacity for a resolution. Negotiation process has been harmed by Trump's tweet, numerous US demands & quarrel b/w US & Kabul officials,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.
"@SecPompeo should refrain from blame-shifting. Our stance in principled & concerted - unlike them," Mujahid added.
On Monday, Pompeo blamed the insurgents for being unable to demonstrate seriousness towards peace.
“So what we are demanding now is demonstrable evidence of their will and capacity to reduce violence, to take down the threat so the inter-Afghan talks [...] will have a less violent context,” he said at a news conference in Uzbekistan.
“We’re hopeful we can achieve that, but we’re not there yet, and work certainly remains,” Pompeo said.
The U.S. and the Taliban are currently engaged in peace talks in Doha inching towards a likely deal.
But sources privy to developments told Anadolu Agency that the proposed pact would depend on whether the insurgents skip announcing yet another spring offensive this year.
“The U.S. is looking for a significant and lasting reduction in violence before it signs something with the Taliban. After that, it has to continue. Then it will go into intra-Afghan negotiations and talks on the ceasefire will take place," a western diplomat in Kabul told Anadolu Agency, adding once the violence is reduced, it should not resurge in the form of a full-blown annual spring offensive.
When contacted, Taliban spokesman Mujahid told Anadolu Agency it was too early to say something about the spring offensive.
“We will decide on it at that time. There is time,” he said.
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, concluded his shuttle diplomacy tour of Pakistan and Afghanistan this week and headed back to Doha, Qatar to continue the marathon round of talks with the Taliban behind closed doors.
Following Khalilzad’s trip, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said Kabul and Washington are on same page in connection with efforts for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
“The presidents of Afghanistan and the U.S. held at least two meetings in the past two months, and in these meetings, they held discussions and [reached an] understanding that whatever agreement is reached, it should fundamentally ends the war and violence, which remains the demand of the people of Afghanistan,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told local Azadi Radio.
Khalilzad welcomes Pakistan’s efforts
Khalilzad visited Islamabad on Jan. 31, where he welcomed Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to support a reduction in violence that will pave the way for a U.S.-Taliban agreement, intra-Afghan negotiations and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire in support of a sustainable peace, said an official statement by the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.
During Khalilzad’s meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the latter insisted on early conclusion of ongoing peace talks with the Taliban to prevent anti-peace elements from derailing the process.
"Foreign Minister emphasized the need for the early conclusion of negotiations and a peace deal in the larger interests of the peace process and for preventing spoilers from playing a negative role," Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in an official statement.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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