KABUL – The Afghan Taliban confirmed on Sunday that it would hold negotiations with the Afghan government once it reaches an agreement with the United States over the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, a day after Kabul announced that negotiations with the rebels would start in two weeks.
The statement comes after United States’ special envoy for Afghan reconciliation had said earlier on Sunday that peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban would take place only after Washington ends its own negotiations with the militant group.
“This (the negotiations) will happen once withdrawal date of the US is concluded,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted.
He added that the Kabul administration would participate in the talks as a “political side” and not “a government.”
Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad had earlier reacted on Twitter to the Afghan government’s announcement of talks with Taliban.
“Lots of chatter in Kabul about intra-Afghan negotiations. To clarify, those negotiations will occur after we conclude our own agreements,” he said.
Kabul said on Saturday that it would begin “face-to-face” negotiations with the Taliban in two weeks in a European country, even though until now the rebels had refused to negotiate with the government as they considered it “illegitimate.”
Khalilzad is now visiting Kabul before heading to Doha, the capital of Qatar, next week to participate in the eighth round of negotiations.
The seven rounds of talks until now have been focused on the withdrawal of international troops from Afghan territory, the key demand of the rebels.
In June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a surprise visit to Kabul that he hoped to reach a peace treaty with the Taliban before Sept. 1, a few weeks in advance of the scheduled general elections in Afghanistan.