Peace talks don`t mean end to fighting: Taliban

A Taliban spokesman said the militants had been fighting for the past 15 years to establish an Islamic government in Afghanistan.

Kabul: The Taliban`s political wing is ready to enter peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan, but the insurgents will in the meantime continue their armed struggle, the group said on Thursday.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militants had been fighting for the past 15 years to establish an Islamic government in Afghanistan "in accordance with the request of its people”.

"It is for this purpose and for bringing about peace and stability in Afghanistan that we have increased our political efforts to come to mutual understanding with the world in order to solve the current ongoing situation," Mujahid said in an e-mailed statement.

"But this understanding does not mean a surrender from Jihad and neither is it connected to an acceptance of the constitution of the stooge Kabul administration."

For the past month, rumours have swirled about the possibility of peace talks between the US-led coalition and the Taliban in the Gulf nation of Qatar.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared to acknowledge US efforts to jump-start a peace process with the Islamic militants in order to help bring an end to the decade-long war. Washington has been mulling releasing several Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo as a confidence-building measure.

Hillary also indicated progress on the related effort to open a political representative office for the Taliban in Qatar, whose role as would-be host for peace talks has gained reluctant approval from Afghan President Hamid Karzai last month.

One of the international community`s and the government`s conditions for reconciliation is that the Taliban must accept the Afghan Constitution, meaning they must recognise Karzai`s government. Mujahid`s outright rejection of this is likely to be a key roadblock in the peace process.

Bureau Report