Taliban say ‘door is open’ on Trump peace talks

Agency, 18 September : The Taliban have told the BBC that their “doors are open” should US President Donald Trump want to resume peace talks in the future.

Chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai insisted negotiation remained “the only way for peace in Afghanistan” during an exclusive interview.

Mr Stanikzai’s words came a week after Mr Trump declared the talks “dead”. Earlier this month, the two sides had appeared close to a deal to end the 18-year conflict.

Mr Trump had even invited senior Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to meet at Camp David on 8 September.

But a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on 6 September, which killed a US soldier and 11 others, prompted Mr Trump to pull out, saying the group “probably don’t have the power to negotiate” if they were unable to agree to a ceasefire during talks.

Late on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning recent Taliban attacks, saying the group “must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace”.

Mr Stanikzai dismissed American concerns, telling the BBC the Taliban had done nothing wrong.

“They killed thousands of Talibans according to them,” he told the BBC’s chief international correspondent, Lyse Doucet. “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.”

“From our side, our doors are open for negotiations,” he added. “So we hope the other side also rethink their decision regarding the negotiation.”

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