Taliban factional leader not to take part in peace talks

Kabul, March 18 (IANS) Dissident Taliban leader Mullah Rasool has said that he will not participate in peace talks with the Afghan government which were led by Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

Rasool has said that he was not opposed to reconciliation in principle, insisting that he opposes Mansoor’s hegemony over the process as far as the Taliban are concerned, Khaama Press reported.

“Earlier we thought Afghan government wanted peace talks with all Taliban, but when we saw that it is interested only in making peace with Mullah Mansoor because of the dictates of the Pakistani government, we decided not to start peace talks,” Rasool said.

Rasool further added that he will not sit in the same reconciliation meetings with Mansoor, whose claim to leadership he considers spurious, nor will he start a separate reconciliation track.

He said that he will negotiate only when Mansoor abandons plans for reconciliation or excluded from them.

Meanwhile, Rasool favoured the inclusion of Iran in the reconciliation process, saying the quadrilateral approach (involving the US, Chinese, Pakistani and Afghan diplomats working together to re-launch negotiations with the Taliban) does not sufficiently represent the variety of regional interests.

He said that excluding Iran, in particular, will in his views result in the failure of reconciliation efforts.

The remarks by Mullah Rasool came as the Afghan government was expecting to start face to face talks with the Taliban in the first week of this month following the conclusion of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) meeting last month.

However, the group rejected to participate in the talks and once again reiterated the group’s pre-conditions for the revival of peace process.

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