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Afghan Taliban threatens to pull out of peace talks

The Afghan Taliban has warned the United States that it will withdraw from peace negotiations if they refuse to withdraw from Afghanistan, a central demand from the Islamist group throughout the 17 year conflict. 

The warning comes a day after the Taliban reportedly attacked a compound in Kabul city killing five and wounding more than 110.

The Taliban’s senior leadership had recently cancelled their fourth round of peace negotiations with the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, citing an “agenda disagreement”. Khalilzad began overseeing the US peace efforts last year and has met with senior leadership a number of times to discuss troop withdrawal and a timeline for a ceasefire.

In a statement the Taliban claimed that “the United States agreed during the Doha meeting in the month of November 2018 about discussing the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and preventing Afghanistan from being used against other countries in the upcoming meeting”. “The United States “is now backing away from that agenda and is unilaterally adding new subjects,” the Taliban said.

The Taliban stated that the Americans must proceed with “sincere intentions” or it “will be forced to stall all talks and negotiations until America ends her unlawful pressures and manoeuvring and steps forward towards true peace”.

In response the US has maintained that any solution to the problem must be led by the Afghan people themselves. The US embassy said in a statement that its goal was “to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement in which every Afghan citizen enjoys equal rights and responsibilities under the rule of law”. 

The Taliban however has refused to deal directly with the government in Kabul.

See more from Reuters here.