Taliban Statement: Ready for Afghan Peace Talks

Posted January 12th, 2012 at 3:40 am (UTC-5)
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The Taliban says its political wing is ready to enter peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan.

In an emailed statement Thursday, the group said it has increased its efforts to bring about peace in the troubled nation. But it also reiterated its opposition to the current Afghan constitution, and it referred to the government led by President Hamid Karzai as a “stooge” administration.

The comments come as a senior U.S. diplomat, Marc Grossman, prepares to lead a delegation to the country next week in hopes of getting approval from President Karzai for peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Earlier this month, the Afghan Taliban said it has reached a preliminary agreement to open a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar, in a move that could help facilitate the talks.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the Taliban is asking for the release of prisoners held at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.

U.S. officials have recently been quoted as saying that Washington is open to negotiating a peace agreement with the Taliban, and that a possible deal could include the transfer of Taliban prisoners.

In December, Vice President Joe Biden said the Afghan Taliban are not America's enemies, and that the insurgent group did not represent a threat to the U.S. unless it continued to harbor al-Qaida terrorists.

U.S.-led forces ousted Afghanistan's Taliban government following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Those attacks were carried out by al-Qaida, which had training camps in Afghanistan.