Iran-US disputes not affecting Afghan peace process: Taliban

TEHRAN, Feb. 17 (MNA) – A Taliban spokesman rejected any influence of heightened tensions between Tehran and Wahington on the process of establishing peace in Afghanistan.

While some media outlets and Afghan observers believe that deteriorated ties between Iran and the United States can negatively affect the peace process in Afghanistan and that Washington has asked the Taliban to cut ties with Tehran, Suhail Shaheen rejected the rumors in an interview with Mehr News Agency. America has not asked us to change the peace deal or cut ties with Iran, he said.

He went on to say that the Taliban and the US have agreed for a one week of reduced violence before the signing of a peace deal, adding that this agreement has not yet been implemented. He noted that a separate announcement will be released on the issue.

Asked whether the group intends to hold direct talks with the Afghan government or start intra-Afghan talks, Shaheen said that intra-Afghan talks will start with the participation of all Afghan groups after the release of a certain number of Taliban prisoners.

He refrained from giving a clear answer to the possibility of direct talks with the Afghan government, just saying that parties will act according to the yet-to-be signed deal.

In another interview with Afghan television station 1TV on Monday, Shaheen said that a peace deal with the US has been finalized and will be signed by the end of February.

Meanwhile, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah confirmed to the TOLOnews channel that a deal had been agreed, though noted that whether it is signed will depend on the success of a proposed period of reduced violence. "The agreement between the Taliban and US has been finalized and the signing of the agreement is based on the reduction in violence over seven days and then it will continue," Abdullah explained. "It is also an opportunity for the opposite side to show that they want peace in the country."

MNA/ 4854810

News Code 155721


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