RNA - “From our side, our doors are open for negotiations,” Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the chief Taliban negotiator, said.
He insisted that negotiation remained “the only way for peace in Afghanistan.”
Stanikzai also defended the Taliban’s role in recent fighting across Afghanistan after US President Donald Trump cited an attack that killed an American soldier as his reason for calling off the negotiations earlier this month.
Stanikzai argued that the Americans had also admitted to killing thousands of Taliban militants during the talks.
Under a draft accord that the two sides had agreed to before the talks were ceased, thousands of US troops would have been pulled out over the next few months in exchange for Taliban guarantees.
But last week Trump revealed he had cancelled an unprecedented meeting between the Taliban and himself secretly scheduled for Camp David.
Speaking at a memorial service marking the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Trump said the two sides “had peace talks scheduled a few days ago” but upon learning about the killing of “a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people”, he had “called them off.”
The Taliban, which now control or have influence in about half of Afghanistan’s territory, have held several rounds of direct talks with US officials in the Qatari capital Doha since October.
The negotiations take place almost 18 years after the US invaded Afghanistan to overthrow a ruling Taliban regime. US troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.
Nearly 20,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of a mission to purportedly train, assist, and advise Afghan security forces.
Bomber, gunmen hit government office in eastern Afghanistan
In a separate development on Wednesday, a bomber and gunmen wounded at least nine people, including a woman and a child, in an attack on a government building in eastern Afghanistan.
The attackers detonated explosives before gunmen poured into the building in the city of Jalalabad.
The office is a distribution center for national identity cards, which people need to vote in the upcoming presidential election in 10 days.
“Afghan security forces surrounded the building and are clashing with the attackers in a bid to counter the attack,” said Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the Nangarhar provincial council.
On Tuesday, a series of attacks left over two dozen people dead at a rally for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the central province of Parwan. Twenty-two people were also killed in a blast in Kabul just over an hour later.
More violence is expected in the coming days as Afghans prepare for the election on September 28, which the Taliban has promised to disrupt.
“We already warned people not to attend election rallies. If they suffer any losses that is their own responsibility,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement released after Tuesday’s blasts.