Taliban talks with U.S. in deadlock

Taliban talks with U.S. in deadlock

Taliban talks with U.S. in deadlock

The head of the Taliban ruled out calling a cease-fire anytime soon, as the United States envoy headed to the region for new round of efforts to end the long-running war in Afghanistan.

"No one should expect us to pour cold water on the heated battlefronts of Jihad (holy war) or forget our forty-year sacrifices before reaching our objectives", stressed Akhundzada in his Eid message, evidently responding to cease-fire demands by USA and Afghan officials.

Karzai's made those remarks a day after he and other opposition politicians met with Taliban leaders in Moscow, where the group maintained its position that it will neither engage in talks with the Ghani administration nor accept a ceasefire until foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

In a similar Eid message past year in June, Taliban leader said the group has "kept the doors of understanding and negotiations open" and "appointed the Political Office of the Islamic emirate as the exclusive avenue of activity in this regard". The Taliban have rejected repeated demands for a cease fire, saying the fighting will continue until US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Taliban, overthrown by US-backed forces weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks, refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate.

It may be recalled that yesterday, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had said meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of OIC summit in Makkah will improve relations between the two countries. Soldiers and civilians welcomed Taliban fighters and supporters into villages and towns.

In a sign of Afghans' frustration with their country's seemingly unending conflict, a group of protesters have restarted a peace march that past year saw them walking across Afghanistan and into the capital Kabul.

Both Taliban and Islamic State militants are active in the capital and have staged attacks in Kabul.

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In a sign of frustration with their country's seemingly unending conflict, a group of protesters have restarted a peace march that previous year saw them walking across Afghanistan and into the capital, Kabul.

Bismillah Watandost, a spokesman for the People's Peace Movement, told AFP on Saturday that about 30 people had started the walk late Thursday, heading from Lashkar Gah to Musa Qala in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold.

"We will be marching 150 kilometres".

Khalilzad has stated that a final agreement, however, must cover not only a troop withdrawal timetable, but a cease-fire by the Taliban and their engagement with representatives of the Afghan society, including the government, for finding a durable political settlement to decades of hostilities in the country.

"Even if we are intimidated with death threats, we won't care about it", Watandost said.

Meanwhile, the Taliban Chief said he expects further progress in intra-Afghan dialogue.

He said "the Islamic emirate is not seeking to monopolize power but it wants all Afghans to have their real role in "government".

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