Sat, 30 May 2020

The Taliban's chief negotiator has said the 'doors are open' to resuming talks with the United States, hours after two attacks claimed by the militants killed at least 48 people in Afghanistan.

Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban meant to reach a deal on the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops collapsed last week after President Donald Trump cited an attack that killed a U.S. soldier as his reason for calling off negotiations. The talks did not include the Afghan government.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai told the BBC that the insurgents had done nothing wrong by continuing to fight throughout the talks. Stanikzai said the Americans had also admitted to killing thousands of Taliban during the discussions.

'From our side, our doors are open for negotiations,' he was quoted as saying.

The September 17 attacks left at least 26 people dead at a rally for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the central province of Parwan, while 22 were killed in a blast in Kabul just over an hour later.

They were the bloodiest attacks to hit Afghanistan since the talks fell apart. Dozens more were wounded in the blasts, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the attacks that occurred 11 days before the country is set to hold a presidential election the Taliban militant group has vowed to disrupt.

'Through these attacks, the Taliban demonstrate blatant disregard for the people and institutions of Afghanistan,' Pompeo said in a statement.

'For Afghans to truly reconcile, the Taliban must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace rather than continue the violence and destruction that causes such inordinate harm to the Afghan people and the future of their country.'

Pompeo warned the Taliban must show a 'significant commitment' if talks are to resume.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, BBC, and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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