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NATO summit: The Taliban's view

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Hours before the start of a major NATO summit in Chicago, the Taliban's main spokesman released a lengthy statement signaling the insurgency was open to a political solution to the conflict, but accused NATO of "wavering in their stance" on negotiations.

"The Islamic Emirate has left all military and political doors open," read the statement, written in English and attributed to spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. "[H]owever the invaders are utilizing a one step forward, two steps backwards tactic. They are conjuring artificial excuses to prolong the occupation of Afghanistan, are wavering in their stance and do not seem to have a clear strategy for a political solution."

Until NATO stops wavering, the statement continues, the Taliban considers the coalition's calls for talks to be "meaningless."

It was the Taliban who suspended negotiations in March following the burning of the Quran on a US base and a shooting spree by a US soldier. But the United States and NATO have continued to talk of seeking a negotiated settlement to the 11-year conflict.

Most recently, President Obama backed negotiating on a visit earlier this month to Afghanistan. However, he also outlined a new strategic pact with the US-backed government in Kabul that would let some American soldiers stay in Afghanistan past 2014 until 2024. 

Obama's two-pronged message of peace talks but prolonged troop presence unsettled what appeared to be a Taliban strategy of running out the clock on the US withdrawal target of 2014. The Taliban's statement today suggests the insurgency is irked by the move to "prolong the occupation."


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