Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Taliban: Our door is open to new talks with Donald Trump

The extremists' comments come hours after they carried out two attacks that killed at least 48 people

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban's chief negotiator (left), has said the 'door is open' to resuming peace talks with the US. AP
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban's chief negotiator (left), has said the 'door is open' to resuming peace talks with the US. AP

The Taliban's chief negotiator said their "doors are open" should United States President Donald Trump want to reopen peace talks, hours after two attacks by the insurgents killed at least 48 people in Afghanistan.

The two sides had appeared close to a deal to end the 18-year conflict, before a Taliban attack in the capital Kabul earlier this month killed a US soldier and 11 others.

Mr Trump to pulled out of the talks in response, saying that if the Taliban were unable to agree to a ceasefire during talks then the group "probably don't have the power to negotiate".

"From our side, our doors are open for negotiations," Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said during an interview with the BBC. "So we hope the other side also rethink their decision regarding the negotiation."

Stanikzai also defended the Taliban's role in recent bloodshed across the country.

"They [the US] killed thousands of Taliban according to them. But in the meantime, if one [US] soldier has been killed that doesn't mean they should show that reaction because there is no ceasefire from both sides," he said, referring to the decision to end talks.

There has been nearly a year of grinding diplomatic efforts to strike a deal that could pave the way for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan after almost two decades of war.

Mr Trump declared the talks "dead" on September 10.

But his administration, which has made no secret of its wish to bring troops home, also left the door open for a new attempt, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Taliban must show a "significant commitment" if talks were to resume.

Tuesday's attacks left at least 26 people dead at a rally for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the central province of Parwan, while 22 were killed in a blast in Kabul just more than an hour later.

They were the bloodiest attacks to hit Afghanistan since the talks fell apart. Dozens more were wounded in the blasts, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

More violence is expected in coming days as Afghans prepare for a presidential election on September 28, which the Taliban have promised to disrupt.

"We already warned people not to attend election rallies. If they suffer any losses that is their own responsibility," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said after Tuesday's blasts.

Updated: September 18, 2019 01:57 PM

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