KABUL - The Taliban’s leader Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada said in an Eid message that the group’s fight is to end the presence of US military in Afghanistan.
Akhundzada said the only way to rescue Afghanistan was for the US forces and, in his words, “other occupying forces” to leave the country, so that an independent, Islamic, intra-Afghan government “can take root”.
He said the group has “kept the doors of understanding and negotiations open” and “appointed the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate as the exclusive avenue of activity in this regard”.
He again called on the US to hold direct talks with the group and said if US officials believe in a peaceful resolution, then they must resolve the crisis through dialogue.
Following the announcement of a temporary ceasefire by the Afghan government with the Taliban, the United States on Thursday said it is ready to participate in talks with the Taliban.
Deputy Assistant to US President Donald Trump and Senior Director for Central Asia at the National Security Council, Lisa Curtis, said US cannot act on behalf of Afghan officials in the peace talks with the Taliban, but they want to participate in the talks.
“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,” said Curtis.
President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced a ceasefire with the Taliban following a meeting of Afghanistan Ulema that issued a fatwa against the ongoing war and violence in the country.
The ceasefire announcement was warmly welcomed by major allies of Afghanistan.
After Ghani’s announcement, the Taliban also responded and announced a three-day ceasefire, over Eid, on their part. However, this did not include foreign forces.