Taliban issues Eid message, pledges to end ceasefire anytime soon

Kabul [Afghanistan]: While the doors for dialogue with the United States to end the 18-year-long war in the country remain open, the Taliban on Saturday pledged to end the ceasefire anytime soon.

In his annual message on Eid, Taliban leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada, said that the group will continue fighting until the group’s objectives were reached, Al Jazeera reported.

“No one should expect us to pour cold water on the heated battlefronts of Jihad or forget our 40-year sacrifices before reaching our objectives,” he said in the message, adding that the Taliban aimed for “an end to the occupation and establishment of an Islamic system”.

The statement comes days after a Taliban official was quoted as saying that “decent progress” had been made during talks with a group of senior Afghan politicians in Moscow last week, but a breakthrough was not achieved.

A sixth round of US-led talks in Qatar also wrapped up last month with “some progress” made on a draft agreement for when foreign troops might withdraw from Afghanistan.

“The doors of dialogue and negotiations have been kept open and at this very moment, the [Taliban] negotiation team … is engaged in negotiations with the American side,” Akhunzada added.

Taliban representatives have been talking with US diplomats for months about withdrawing more than 20,000 US and NATO coalition troops in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for attacks.

But so far there have been no signs of a ceasefire agreement and formal negotiations with President Ashraf Ghani’s government, who Akhunzada accused of “trying to sabotage dialogue between the Islamic Emirate and Afghan political figures”.

Ghani had proposed a nationwide ceasefire at the start of Ramadan early last month, but the Taliban rejected the offer.

Last year, the Taliban had observed a three-day ceasefire over Eid for the first time since 2001.


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