Taliban Reject Reports of Secret Meetings w/Kabul Government

Taliban to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Reject Secret Meetings with Qabul Government

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

London- Mullah Zabihullah, the official spokesman of the “Afghan Taliban” and the second man in the movement said that security measures forced leader of the Afghan Taliban, Haibatullah not to reveal his whereabouts. “We are ordered by God’s will to take all necessary measures to secure his safety,” he said, adding that “the Emir of the Afghanistan Imara did not disappear, he is present among his people and at the frontlines. He is fine.”

Zabihullah replied to questions sent by Asharq Al-Awsat to his electronic email. The number-two man in the Taliban movement denied reports that quoted Western sources in London as saying that the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government have restarted secret talks in Qatar last week.

“There were no such meetings. We reject any secret negotiations with representatives of the government of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. There is no truth to such reports,” he said.

Zabihullah revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat the presence of relations and new networks with Iran. “The movement is trying to benefit from all legitimate means to reach a regional agreement as part of the war against the American invasion; therefore, the Imara holds ongoing networks with a large number of regional and neighboring states.”

He said 18 months ago, the movement had received Drone planes, which help film suicidal operations.

However, he refused to reveal the side providing such advanced equipment, but asserted that the “movement is expecting to soon receive more advanced weapons.”

Commenting on reports saying that Taliban had appointed a representative in Iran, Zabihullah said: “We heard these reports, but they are untrue.”

Asharaq Al-Awsat asked about the visit of Afghanistan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and earlier the visit of Ghani to Saudi Arabia to hold talks with the Saudi leadership for reaching peace, and whether the Taliban had similar networks with the Kingdom. The spokesperson said Saudi Arabia has a central position among Muslims.

“Our religious shrines are there, and therefore this state has a big responsibility towards the Muslim world and their issues. We seek to have a lasting and good relationship with the government and people of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

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