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Kabul rules out peace deal with Taliban before September 28 election

Afghan provincial governors and members of the High Peace Council, an organization set up to promote peace talks with the Taliban, gather Dec. 6, in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, to talk about reintegrating former Taliban into society. (Spc. Edward A. Garibay, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/U.S. Army)
September 16, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A spokesman for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani says the Afghan government will only consider making a “legitimate” peace with the Taliban after a national election in September, despite political uncertainty following the recent collapse of U.S.-Taliban peace talks.

Presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi made the remarks on September 14, saying: “Nothing will impede the presidential election from happening” on September 28.

Seddiqi said the “legitimacy” of a peace deal with the Taliban “cannot be achieved without elections.”

Sediqqi said a Taliban delegation’s visit to Russia on September 13, just days after U.S. President Donald Trump called off talks with Taliban negotiators in Qatar, shows that the Taliban is faced with a “political failure” of its own.

He said the Taliban should talk directly with the Afghan government, which they have refused to do, rather than with foreign powers.

A Taliban negotiating team on September 13 met in Moscow with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Interfax news agency that the meeting underlined the importance of renewing talks between the U.S. officials and the Taliban.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said that the Taliban negotiators, led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai, had told Kabulov that they are ready to continue talks with Washington.

Sediqqi also suggested major changes to improve security across Afghanistan ahead of the vote.

The Taliban consider the Afghan government a U.S. puppet and have warned Afghans not to vote, saying that polling stations will be targeted by militant attacks.