Taleban lost chance for peace: Kabul

Taleban lost chance for peace: Kabul
Afghan policemen inspect the site of a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 28, 2018.

Kabul - Trump condemned the militant group for recent carnage in Kabul and said the United States was not prepared to talk now.

By Reuters

Published: Tue 30 Jan 2018, 8:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Jan 2018, 10:45 PM

Afghanistan said on Tuesday the Taleban would have to be defeated on the battlefield after US President Donald Trump rejected the idea of talks with the militants following a series of deadly attacks.
The Taleban reacted to Trump's announcement by saying they never wanted to talk to the United States anyway, but one senior member of the group said he suspected efforts would still be made to get negotiations going.
Talking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump condemned the militant group for recent carnage in Kabul and said the United States was not prepared to talk now. He pledged to "finish what we have to finish".
His comments suggested he sees a military victory over the Taleban, an outcome that US military and diplomatic officials say cannot be achieved with the resources and manpower he has authorised.
A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said while the government had encouraged the Taleban to talk, the attacks in Kabul, including a suicide bomb attack on Saturday that killed more than 100 people, was a "red line".
"The Taleban have crossed a red line and lost the chance for peace," said the spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi.
"We have to look for peace on the battlefield. They have to be marginalized."
He declined to comment directly on Trump's announcement.
A spokesman for the Taleban, who are fighting to oust foreign forces, defeat the US-backed government and impose their version of Islamic rule, said they never wanted to hold peace talks with the United States anyway.
"Their main strategy is to continue war and occupation," the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement.
He said Taleban fighters would respond in kind if the Americans wanted to focus on war: "If you emphasise war then our fighters will not welcome you with flowers."
'Public consumption'
Trump last year ordered an increase in US troops, air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said this month the strategy was working and pushing the insurgents closer to talks.
That was before a suicide bomber penetrated the highly guarded centre of Kabul on Saturday and detonated an ambulance laden with explosives, killing more than 100 people and wounding at least 235.
That attack followed a brazen Taleban assault on the city's Intercontinental Hotel on January 20, in which more than 20 people, including four Americans, were killed.
The Taleban said the attacks were a message to Trump that his policy of aggression would not work.
Another Taleban member said the United States had been approaching states that have relations with the Taleban to try to get them to push the insurgents to the negotiating table.
"President Trump is saying this for public consumption," a Taleban member, who declined to be identified, said of Trump's rejection of talks. "He and his team are making every effort to bring us to the negotiating table.
"Actually, the latest attack in Kabul awakened President Trump and his puppets in Afghanistan about the capability of the Taleban and their ability to mount big attacks anywhere."
The Taleban refer to the Afghan government as US "puppets".
The United States believes the Haqqani network, a faction within the Taleban, was behind Saturday's bomb blast in Kabul.
It and Afghanistan have long accused Pakistan of supporting the Taleban, and the Haqqani network in particular, as assets to be used in its bid to limit the influence of India in Afghanistan.
This month, Trump ordered big cuts in security aid to Pakistan over its failure to crack down on militants.
Pakistan denies accusations it fosters the Afghan war, and condemned the recent attacks in Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment on Trump's rejection of talks with the Taleban.

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