Taliban turns down Pakistani media reports of Taliban-US delegation’s talks in Islamabad

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The Afghan Taliban has openly rejected media reports in Pakistan that the Taliban was preparing to resume talks and meet with the United States special representative to the Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad and has reiterated their refusal to directly deal with the Afghanistan government.

According to Reuters news reports, Pakistani news channels and newspaper agencies have reported that a meeting between Khalilzad and Pakistan officials as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan was set to take place in Islamabad.

The senior Taliban leaders said regional powers along with Pakistani authority had approached Taliban and asked them to hold talks with the US delegation in Islamabad, including the Afghan government in peace effort but the Taliban had rejected the approach.

In an official statement, the Taliban government Zabiullah Mujahid said, “We wanted to make it clear that we will not hold any meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad.”

Another senior Taliban leader said, “We have made it clear again and again that we would never hold any meeting with the Afghan government as we know that they are not capable of addressing our demands.”

The US has said any settlement in Afghan must be between the Taliban and the Afghan government, who continuously refused to hold talks to an administration which the Taliban described as an illegitimate puppet regime.

The Taliban leader said the talks could only resume if there would be only three issues to be discussed – an exchange of prisoners, a US withdrawal from Afghan and imposing a ban on the Taliban’s leader movement.

On Thursday, Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad and met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan along with the foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other Pakistani officials.

A foreign office statement said, “The two sides reviewed developments post-Abu Dhabi, in order to take the Afghan peace process forward.”

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