'Taliban wants peace negotiations without Pak interference or agenda set by it'

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London, Dec 23 (ANI): Noted Taliban analyst Ahmed Rashid has claimed that the insurgent group wants peace negotiations without the interference of Pakistan or in accordance to an agenda set by that country.

The Telegraph quoted Rashid as saying that he had recently conducted interviews with five former insurgent leaders, and each of them said: "They want to be free to have negotiations without the interference of Pakistan or according to an agenda set by Pakistan."

This attitude of Taliban leaders towards Pakistan is viewed as a serious blow to that country, which has developed relations with insurgent groups to retain a stake in any final peace deal, the paper said.

Senior Taliban leaders have said now that their strongholds of Kandahar and Helmand were being hit by teams of special forces, they want to open a base in a neutral, third country like an Arab Gulf state, Turkey or Japan before holding any meaningful peace talks.

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, said that meaningful talks were not possible until insurgent leaders had a safe base from which to negotiate.

"Taliban are condemned by the world. They have no address. If I was a Taliban I would choose a country close to Afghanistan but neutral, like the United Arab Emirates, somewhere which is not interested in interfering in Afghanistan, like Pakistan or China," he added. (ANI)

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