Unconvinced That Taliban Wants Peace: Abdullah Abdullah

Kabul: The chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, said that he is unconvinced the Taliban want peace.
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Making these remarks in an interview with AP, Abdullah said, “Messages go back and forth between a variety of Taliban to senior negotiators, including me. I have received countless messages from Taliban officials, some written, some as voice messages. Sometimes they are detailed, and other times terse and brief. But I am yet to see a commitment to peace from the insurgent group on which I can rely,” Abdullah said.

Abdullah said his response to the Taliban has been consistent, “Put everything that you want on the negotiating table. We are ready to discuss it. We are ready to find ways that it works for both sides.”

However, he said that the withdrawal of troops adds pressure on both sides to find a peace deal. The fractured Afghan political leadership must too unify in its peace talks with the Taliban or risk the withdrawal of US and NATO troops leading to more violence, he said.

“History and millions of Afghans — already frustrated by what they see as government ineptitude and runaway corruption — will judge them harshly if unity eludes the powerful leaders now in Kabul,” Abdullah said, adding that the withdrawal comes with “huge challenges”.

“An inclusive, peaceful settlement, this is what everybody believes in. If we don’t have peace then, of course, nobody has forgotten the recent history of the country. So, everything has to be done in order to mitigate the serious consequences of the withdrawal,” he added.

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