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Taliban rules out ceasefire offer with Afghan govt.

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Sher Abbas Stanekzai, Taliban chief negotiator, says ceasefire with the US-led foreign forces is intact but there is no ceasefire with the Afghan government forces as it is not part of the US-Taliban agreement.

“A separate agreement will be discussed and signed with the Kabul administration for ceasefire and reduction in violence,” Stanekzai said and ruled out ceasefire with the government before the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue

Spike in violence has raised concerns about the fragile peace process and there has been calls from the UN, US, EU and OIC for humanitarian ceasefire and reduction in violence in view of the corona pandemic.

Stanekzai argued that fighting is not one-sided but the government forces are also attacking the Taliban and conducting raids. He referred to the statements by the Afghan officials that they have retaken areas from the Taliban, adding both the government forces and the US forces are to be blamed for the violence as they have not met conditions for the intra-Afghan dialogue, according to PakTribuen, a Pakistan News Agency reported on Tuesday.

Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for an attack on a military base in southern Helmand province that killed and injured 10 security personnel.

Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi speaking to the media in Kabul renewed call on the Taliban to declare humanitarian ceasefire to contain the corona pandemic and ensure assistance to the affected people.

Spokesperson for the Office of the National Security Council Javid Faisal said on Sunday Taliban killed 17 civilians and wounded 49 others across 17 provinces in the first seven days of Ramadan.

Faisal said last week Taliban has carried out 2,804 attacks since they have signed agreement with the US in late February.

Stanekzai said the US has not yet honoured its promise to secure the release of 5000 Taliban prisoners before the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue, which were scheduled to start on March 10, adding intra-Afghan dialogue could start soon after the Taliban prisoners are freed.

“Intra-Afghan cannot start unless 5000 of our prisoners are released and there would be no ceasefire and reduction in violence unless intra-Afghan dialogue starts. The US and the Kabul administration are responsible for this situation,” he said.

“The Americans did not honour their commitments in the agreement to secure release of 5000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture and the Kabul administration also created hurdles and difficulties for the release of prisoners as they do not want peace. The Kabul administration does not consider peace beneficial for it as it wants another five years term and is not willing to peace,” the Taliban negotiator said. Asked if the Taliban violence poses threat to the Taliban-US agreement, Stanekzai said he is confident that the routine operations by the Taliban against the government forces as there is not a major problem in the agreement with the Americans.

He said Taliban have taken “violations” of the agreement by the American forces with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the US top commander General Scott Miller last month and they have promised not to repeat these mistakes in future.

“We are fully committed to the agreement with the Americans. We are trying the agreement is not broken. We also understand Americans also trying to stand committed to the agreement and that it is not broken. However, the Kabul administration is trying to sabotage the agreement and to extend period of its rule,” he said.

Asked as to what Taliban discussed with Khaluilzad and the US top commander Scott Miller recently in Qatar, Stanekzai said both sides have established a coordination channel to monitor the implementation of the agreement.

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