Presidential palace spokesman Sediq Sediqi said on Friday that the U.S President Donald Trump has insisted on a ceasefire as a precondition to begin peace talks with Afghanistan.
Sediqi made this known in his Twitter account saying that Trump made his intention in a telephone conversation with his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani.
According to the tweets, Trump also told Ghani that for any process to succeed, the inclusion of Afghanistan in the talks is imperative.
The U.S. and the Taliban had been talking in a bid to put an end to the 18-year-long Afghan conflict for almost a year before the talks were called off by Trump in September at what was reported to be the last minute.
The Afghan government was largely marginalised in the talks as per Taliban refusal. Through the Taliban’s lens, the Afghan government is nothing beyond a puppet regime.
In reaction to the phone call, a spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, told dpa that once the U.S. left Afghanistan, the Taliban will talk with all Afghan sides, but not with the Afghan government as a legitimate state.
Prospects for peace in Afghanistan seem distant despite the recent release of three key Taliban members in exchange for two Kabul-based American University of Afghanistan professors.
A few days after the swap, the Taliban claimed to have shot down a U.S. Chinook helicopter in south-eastern Logar province on Wednesday, killing two U.S. soldiers.
On the same day, the militants killed at least 12 Afghan soldiers in northern Kunduz province, in yet another usual overnight attack.