KABUL: Taliban leader Mullah Hehbatullah Akhundzada said in an Eid message that the group’s fight is to ensure the US military vacates Afghanistan, TOLO News reported on Wednesday.
The Taliban leader said that the vacation of US and “other occupying forces” is the only way to rescue Afghanistan so an independent, Islamic, intra-Afghan government “can take root”.
The Taliban have “kept the doors of understanding and negotiations open” and have “appointed the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate as the exclusive avenue of activity in this regard”.
He called on direct talks between the Taliban and the US, saying that if the US believes in a peaceful resolution, then dialogue must be pursued. The US said that it is ready to initiate talks with the Taliban after the Afghan government announced a temporary ceasefire last week.
Deputy Assistant to US President Donald Trump and Senior Director for Central Asia at the National Security Council Lisa Curtis said that the US is willing to participate in the talks but will not act on behalf of the Afghan government.
“The United States is ready to participate in the discussion, but we cannot serve as a substitute for the Afghan government and the Afghan people. A political settlement must be negotiated through a process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” she said.
A ceasefire was announced by the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday leading to the Taliban announcing their own three-day cease-fire over Eid but said the cease-fire offer did not include foreign forces.