‘Favour political settlement to Afghan conflict’: Taliban Supreme leader

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Supreme leader of Taliban Hibatullah Akhundzada has said he “strenuously favours” a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan even as the militants have launched a sweeping offensive across the nation.

The announcement comes as representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents sat down for a new round of talks in Doha over the weekend, stirring hopes that the long-stalled peace talks were being resuscitated.

“In spite of the military gains and advances, the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan] strenuously favours a political settlement in the country,” Akhundzada said in a message released ahead of next week’s Muslim holiday of Eidul Azha.

“Every opportunity for the establishment of an Islamic system, peace and security that presents itself will be made use of by the Islamic Emirate,” he was quoted as saying by AFP.

For months, the two sides have been meeting on and off in the Qatari capital, but have achieved little if any notable success with the discussions appearing to have lost momentum as the militants made enormous gains on the battlefield.

The two sides were due to talk again on Sunday.

The Taliban leader said his group remained committed to forging a solution to end the war but slammed “the opposition parties” for “wasting time”.

“Our message remains that instead of relying on foreigners, let us resolve our issues among ourselves and rescue our homeland from the prevailing crisis,” he added.

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