The Taliban declined Saturday to resume peace talks with the government of Afghanistan, releasing a statement listing the conditions that need to be met before the long-paused talks could resume, Agence France-Presse reported.
“We want to repeat our stance once again that until the occupation of foreign troops ends, until Taliban names are removed from international blacklists and until our detainees are released, talks will yield no results,” the statement read.
The talks had been brokered by a four-branched group that included representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States. The dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban has been stalled since the announcement about a year ago of the death of the group’s longtime leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, more than two years ago.
Following the Taliban’s ouster by a U.S.-led military intervention in 2001, it has fought against the Afghanistan government, which is backed by the West. The four nations that brokered the peace talks, the so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group, said in February they expected to pick up peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in March. But the group, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and wants to re-establish a fundamentalist Islamic regime, publicly refused Saturday, Reuters reported.
“We reject all such rumors and unequivocally state that the leader of Islamic Emirate has not authorized anyone to participate in this meeting,” the statement read.
Fighting between the Afghan government and the Taliban has increased in intensity in the past few months. Government officials had characterized the planned meeting as the first significant step toward peace aimed at ending a 15-year war.
The extremist Taliban now holds more territory in Afghanistan than it has since being ousted from power. Meanwhile, the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, has gained a foothold in the eastern province of Nangarhar.