ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban said on Thursday they were “ready to initiate meaningful negotiations” for ending the long-standing war in Afghanistan if their “legitimate demands” were met.The surprising reaction from the hardliners comes ahead of a possible announcement by US President Barrack Obama to extend the stay of thousands of Nato troops in Afghanistan after 2016.The New York Times earlier today reported the US will stop its troop draw-down from the insurgency-stricken country, and instead keep thousands of troops on the Afghan soil till the end of President Obama’s term in 2017.
“Obama will announce on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years,” it said.“The Islamic Emirate believes a military solution is not a way out of the Afghan issue. All problems can could be resolved through dialogue after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghan soil,” said a Taliban statement on Thursday.“We are ready to initiate meaningful negotiations with all concerned sides.”
The group; however, renewed their conditions, which include an end to the “US-led occupation” of Afghanistan.The Taliban leadership also condemned media reports that the US and its Nato allies had planned to extend their combat mission in Afghanistan beyond 2016.
The group last month took over the northern city of Kunduz for a brief period until it was reclaimed following US air strikes.“The continuation of oppression, occupation and invasion is not in the interest of anyone,” the Taliban leadership council said.aAfghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdulah, who was in New York to attend a UN General Assembly session at the time of the Taliban control of Kunduz, had said “American and Afghan generals are considering to maintain American troops in Afghanistan after 2016.”
“I have asked all of the Nato partners to remain flexible and to consider the possibility of making adjustments into the plan for the presence in Afghanistan. We need to do an assessment,” the US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told a Nato defence ministers meeting in Brussels on October 8.