Taliban does not recognize High Peace Council: spox

TEHRAN, May 17 (MNA) – The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, says the militant group does not recognize the Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) and will negotiate with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah outside the HPC’s framework.

At long last, the political agreement was finalized between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah. Earlier, Ashraf Ghani promised to hand over the responsibility of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) to Dr. Abdullah, while many believe that Ghani aims to besmirch Abdullah by putting him in charge of a body that would only damage the Afghan peace process, and with which the Taliban is on bad terms.

The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Mehr correspondent that the High Peace Council was a body in name only, that the Taliban did not recognize it and would hold negotiations with Dr. Abdullah, as it would with all other Afghan factions, in the framework of inter-Afghan talks.

Zabihullah Mujahid maintained that the militant group intended to hold talks with all Afghan factions according to the peace agreement.

He said the Taliban would enter into negotiations with the Afghan government while considering it an Afghan faction, and it did not matter to the group which figures would take part in the talks, as the Taliban would negotiate with all sides as an Afghan faction.

Mujahid added that Ashraf Ghani has set up the High Peace Council to undermine the peace process and that the Council has made no progress in consolidating peace in the past.

It does not matter to the Taliban that the Kabul government has established the so-called High Peace Council with the help of the United States and merged it with the government, the spokesman said, adding that the group not only did not recognize the body, but it also considered it an obstacle to peace and security and would even fight against it.

Mujahid added that it would be better to work in earnest to consolidate peace in Afghanistan instead of resorting to subterfuge and empty words, stressing that all Afghan factions should pave the way for this process in order to find a solution to the Afghan problem.

He also maintained that the Taliban were still conducting military operations against the government.

"We have not reached an agreement with the Kabul government nor have we signed any document against carrying out attacks against each other; therefore, it's up to the Kabul administration. We will keep our attacks against the government, and if the government escalates its own attacks, we will respond accordingly. The war will end only when the Inter-Afghan talks begin. If we see any progress there, the war will be stopped," he said.

Mujahideen then called on all Afghans to pave the way for the Inter-Afghan talks so that a solution would be found to Afghanistan's problems.

MNA/4926778

News Code 158772

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