Don’t ask us to put down arms, Taliban tells U.S.

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan should stop calling on Taliban militants to lay down their arms and tell the U.S. to end the use of force instead, the Taliban said on Friday.

Zalmay Khalilzad entered a sixth round of talks with the group in Qatar this week. “In our opening session, I underscored to the Talibs that the Afghan people… want this war to end,” he tweeted. “It is time to put down arms, stop the violence, & embrace peace.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a series of sharp tweets in response. Mr. Khalilzad “should forget about the idea of us putting down our arms”, he said. “Instead of such fantasies, he should drive the idea home (to the U.S.) about ending the use of force and incurring further human and financial losses for the decaying Kabul administration.” He said the U.S. must stop repeating failed strategies. “It would be better if [Khalilzad] musters the courage to call a spade a spade, not a gardening tool & accept the current realities.”

In Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani renewed his appeal to hold direct talks with the Taliban and called for an agreement on a ceasefire.

“The Afghan government is ready to announce a ceasefire if the Taliban show readiness in this regard,” he said at the closing ceremony of a ‘loya jirga’ (grand assembly).


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