Kabul: Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is open to peace talks with the Afghan government and US negotiators, his spokesmen said on Friday, but on the condition that all foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
The comments by two of his spokesmen come as President Hamid Karzai outlines an ambitious Western-backed plan to tempt fighters away from their insurgent masters by offering money and jobs.
Hekmatyar served as prime minister briefly during the 1992-1996 civil war, but has become one of the top militant leaders opposing the Afghan government, claiming attacks on foreign troops and operating across the north and east.
Waliullah, spokesman for Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan – the radical Islamist group that Hekmatyar commands – said by telephone from an undisclosed location that the warlord was open to talks "with all those concerned”.
"We are ready for negotiations anywhere and at any stage. The doors are open but they (the United States) imposed a war on us and we have no option left but to fight for our country," Waliullah said.
"We want a free and independent Afghanistan. We are ready for positive negotiations which can bring results and peace in our country. We agree that all those concerned should be a part of these negotiations."
But despite the apparent conciliatory tone, another spokesman said that all the preconditions Hekmatyar raised in the past remained.