ICMD, March 14, 2019

The Taliban political chief, who headed the militants’ delegation during the most recent round of peace talks with the United States, said on Thursday that he was optimistic and assured Afghans that they had no reason to fear a settlement.

The latest round of talks in Qatar lasted 16 days and finished on Tuesday, with officials from both sides saying that progress had been made, but there was no agreement on when foreign troops might be withdrawn.

“We are very hopeful for the peace talks, because the latest round had some good dialogues which paved the way to more progress regarding peace in the future,” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said in an eight-minute audio tape of an interview conducted by the Taliban and posted online.

Making his first public comments since his release last year from a Pakistani prison, Baradar sought to reassure Afghans who have worried that peace with the Taliban could herald the return of its strict values.

At the end of the latest round of talks, US negotiators said progress was made over the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops, and on assurances from the Taliban that they would not allow their homeland to be used again by foreign militant groups to mount attacks in other countries.

“We assure the neighbouring, regional and other countries that the upcoming system will not be against anyone; we are not under the influence of anyone, and have no aim of harming anyone,” Baradar said.

He also offered a message to Taliban fighters, saying that even though he felt the group had achieved political and military victory, they should remain composed and not become arrogant. -- Courtesy Reuters