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Afghan govt impeding peace efforts: Taliban

Amid a prolonged delay in intra-Afghan negotiations, the Taliban has accused the Kabul government of creating "hurdles" in the way of the peace process, saying the US and NATO have also fallen short in implementing the peace deal the militant group signed with Washington in February.
Afghan govt impeding peace efforts: Taliban

Kabul, April 27 Amid a prolonged delay in intra-Afghan negotiations, the Taliban has accused the Kabul government of creating "hurdles" in the way of the peace process, saying the US and NATO have also fallen short in implementing the peace deal the militant group signed with Washington in February.

The Taliban's statement on Sunday came in response to international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and a reduction in violence, which was echoed by a message from President Ashraf Ghani appealing to the Taliban to call a ceasefire, especially considering how the coronavirus was spreading throughout the country, TOLO News reported.

The Taliban said that the Afghan government's calling for a ceasefire was "not rational and convincing" while the peace process is being impeded by the Afghan government and while it is not fully implemented.

"The interests of the (Afghan government) are in the continuation of the of war," the Taliban claimed, adding: "(The Afghan government) started creating hurdles on the way of the implementation of the agreement from the beginning."

The group clarified that, so far, the government has postponed the prisoner release, has not formed an inclusive negotiations team and has not been able to end the internal rift, referring to the dispute between President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

The group also said the US, NATO and its allies have not played their role in the implementation of the agreement.

Responding to the Taliban statement, Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi on Sunday said that the militant group was still insisting on fighting against the people of Afghanistan despite repeated calls by the Afghan government, the country's religious scholars, international organizations, NATO and the European Union.

Sediqqi said that an increase in Taliban attacks "against the people and the security forces of the country" in recent days showed that the Taliban are not committed to reducing violence.

He said the government of Afghanistan accepted the call for a reduction in violence to start the peace talks with the Taliban, as well as started the Taliban prisoner release and formed a negotiation teamall as steps to move the peace process forward.

Government information shows that 13 provinces out of a total of 34 are witnessing heavy clashes as a result of Taliban attacks.

Logar is one of these provinces, where, according to tribal elders, seven members of the Afghan forces were killed in a Taliban attack on Saturday evening. Four of the forces were taken by the Taliban, said the elders.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Tariq Arian, said the Taliban has intensified their attacks but "the Afghan security and defence forces have conducted their operations under the active defensive framework and have inflicted heavy losses on the Taliban."

The US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in a tweet on Sunday urged the Taliban to call a humanitarian ceasefire during Ramadan month.

( With inputs from IANS )

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