In statement, insurgents’ spokesman says they will not take responsibility for any delay in start of negotiations
The Afghan Taliban on Friday said they were ready to join intra-Afghan talks, set to begin on March 10, if Kabul implements a prisoner swap clause enshrined in the peace deal signed between the insurgents and the U.S.
“If the provisions of the agreements are implemented and prisoners are released, the Islamic Emirate is prepared for intra-Afghan negotiations on March 10. Our negotiation team and agenda are ready and will go ahead as agreed,” Suhail Shaheen, spokesman of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said in a statement.
However, the insurgent reaffirmed that the talks could be delayed if the prisoners are not released and this would not be the fault of the militants. “If the negotiations are delayed beyond the stated date, the responsibility will rest with the others,” he added.
The statement from the Taliban follows an end to a partial truce between the militants and the Kabul administration, which has resulted in a series of attacks on Afghan security forces. That truce was declared over after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced that he did not agree with the clause to free Taliban prisoners prior to the intra-Afghan talks. He said any decision to free prisoners was the sovereign right of the Afghan government.
On Friday, a terrorist attack targeting a political gathering in Kabul left at least 32 dead and dozens more wounded. The Taliban however said they were not responsible for the strike, though no group has yet claimed responsibility.
Pakistan has strongly condemned the terrorist attack. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered in this tragedy. We are relieved that the leadership has remained unharmed,” Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said in a statement.