Taliban say frustrated by additional demands of US

The Taliban, in a rambling commentary published on their website, expressed frustration with what they describe as additional U.S. demands in peace talks — even after they had offered a “reduction of violence.” They have not publicly outlined what that would entail and did not explain the new Washington demands.

The insurgents’ gesture of reduced violence, though never quantified, was meant to open a window for the signing of a peace agreement that could see the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the end to the 18-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest conflict.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said in a statement Friday that to talk about a “reduction of violence” was an “absurdity.”

“In a conflict marked by attacks on civilians, the term ‘violence reduction’ is an absurdity. There can be no acceptable level of violence,” said Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty.

“The United States and the Afghan Taliban must commit to abide by the laws of war and end all attacks on Afghan civilians,” he added.

Earlier, Taliban officials familiar with the talks told The Associated Press the Taliban had offered a cease-fire, lasting seven to 10 days, to Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad durig their latest round of talks last week in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

However, Khalilzad had previously sought a more comprehensive end to the fighting and it was never known whether Washington would have agreed to a temporary truce. The U.S. State Department has withheld comment.

In their late Thursday commentary, the Taliban accused Washington of “wasting time” and said the talks with Khalilzad had become bogged down over a definition of “reduction of violence.” The tone was surprisingly harsh following earlier optimistic tweets from Taliban political spokesman Sohail Shaheen who hinted the insurgents and Khalilzad were close to an understanding.