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Taliban rebuke Kabul push for ceasefire as deal nears

AT News

KABUL: While the government is urging ceasefire as part of the US and Taliban peace deal, the militants’ spokesman says that no new article was added to the deal draft.

Suhail Shahin, spokesman of Taliban’s Qatar-based political office said Tuesday that the deal was close to be finalized, adding that nothing new had been added.

The US and Taliban negotiators have agreed on the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, reduction of violence, not use of Afghan soil by international terrorist groups and intra-Afghan dialogues in their 10 times of talks held in Qatar for more than a year.

The two sides were very close to finalize deal in September 2019, a move that could put an end to the US longest war, but the US President Donald Trump suddenly called the negotiations off following a suicide bombing that killed an American soldier in Kabul. The Taliban-claimed attack also killed 11 Afghans.

President Ghani’s spokesman, rejected the “violence reduction” in the weekend saying that lacked a precise military, legal and practical meaning. He emphasized that the government wants ceasefire.

“The agreement has reached the final points and should be signed. It shouldn’t be delayed by different excuses. It is good if Taliban agree on ceasefire, but if there are problems before the ceasefire, violence reduction can lead us to ceasefire. We need to run the peace process,” said Hajji Din Mohammad, deputy head of the High Peace Council, a government-funded entity working to bring war parties to a negotiation table.

Separately, Esmael Khan, a former jihadi leader warned against an impasse in the peace process if the government and Taliban insist on their stances.

A US official has said that the US planned to reduce its troop number in Afghanistan in 2020 even if no deal gained with the Taliban.

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