Afghan Intelligence Chief, NSA in secret talks with Taliban separately at two fronts

Afghan Intelligence Chief, NSA in secret talks with Taliban separately at two fronts

KABUL - Afghan officials are reportedly carrying out at least two tracks of talks with the Taliban - one between Afghanistan's intelligence chief Masoom Stanikzai and the group and another between the president’s National Security Advisor Mohammed Hanif Atmar and the Taliban, Associated Press has reported.

This comes after a wave of attacks in the country in January killed over 150 people and wounded hundreds more.

Sources familiar to the talks, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP that although talks are ongoing, neither Stanikzai nor Atmar are talking to each other or to the High Peace Council about their discussions.

Hakim Mujahid, a member of the High Peace Council, confirmed that Stanikzai has regular contact with the Taliban's point man for peace talks, Mullah Abbas Stanikzai, AP reported. The two are not related.

Mujahid meanwhile told AP that the Taliban would not respond well to US President Donald Trump’s outburst last month where he said the door to talks was closed.

Mujahid said: "The language of power, the language of threat will not convince Afghans to surrender."

According to the news agency, Andrew Wilder, vice president of the Asia Program at the US Institute of Peace, multiple players in Kabul have contacts with the Taliban. "But this isn't being done in a coordinated manner to achieve clearly defined objectives," he said.

Meanwhile, the former No. 2 of the Taliban, Aga Jan Motasim, who still counts the group’s leader Mullah Habaitullah Akhunzada among his friends, warned that Trump's strategy of using the military to force a more compliant Taliban to the negotiation table could lead to more suicide attacks, AP reported.

Motasim said he wants to be a bridge between the government and Taliban. -Agencies