Taliban Publish Letter Calling on US to Start Afghan Peace Talks


In an unexpected overture at a time of increasing bloodshed in Afghanistan, the Taliban have published an open letter expressing a desire for peace talks and calling on the "American people" and "peace-loving congressmen" to pressurise the Donald Trump administration into negotiations, The Guardian writes. 

The letter, released by the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, comes amid deteriorating conditions for US and Afghan coalition forces on the battlefield and after a month in which two Taliban assaults on Kabul killed 150 civilians.

The Trump administration has sent mixed messages about its readiness to have contact with the Taliban, but it has insisted that all substantive negotiations would have to be led by the Afghan government.

For its part, the Taliban refuses to talk to the Afghan government without first discussing the withdrawal of foreign troops with its powerful ally.

"If the policy of using force is continued for another one hundred years," the letter reads, "the outcome will be the same ... as you have observed over the last six months since the initiation of Trump's new strategy."

The 2,800-word letter favours US and UN-produced statistics over apocalyptic threats. In an attempt to persuade the US public that the war is unwinnable it cites the "3,546 American and foreign soldiers" killed, an "87% rise" in heroin production in 2017, and the assessment from the US watchdog the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that Taliban control on the ground has increased significantly.

In what appears to be a nod to rising support for the Taliban from Russia and Iran, the statement refers to the "international community" now "backing our justified resistance".

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