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Will not hold direct talks with Afghanistan government: Senior Taliban official

File photo: Afghan Taliban Photograph:( AFP )

Agencies Kabul, Afghanistan Jul 28, 2019, 01.06 PM (IST)

The Taliban said on Sunday they will not hold direct talks with the Afghan government and rejected a statement from a senior minister about plans to hold the such as meeting within the next two weeks, a senior Taliban official said.

"Intra-Afghan talks will start only after a foreign force withdrawal is announced," said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Qatar.

On Saturday, Abdul Salam Rahimi, the state minister for peace affairs, said the government would be represented by a 15-member delegation during direct talks with the Taliban "in the coming two weeks".

The apparent development comes after Taliban negotiators sat with Afghan representatives at a so-called intra-Afghan dialogue brokered by Germany in Doha this month.

The Afghan stakeholders had agreed to attend in a "personal capacity" so the Taliban can continue to insist it is not talking directly to the Kabul administration.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP any new talks would only begin after a deal has been forged with the US, and he reiterated the insurgents' long-held position that they would "not talk to the Kabul administration as a government".

Rahimi said the next delegation would include some of those who went to Doha, as well as religious scholars, women and other members of civil society.

Meanwhile, the war rages across Afghanistan, with the Taliban, the US and Afghan forces all fighting at an increased tempo.

Watch: Taliban-Afghan agree to peace roadmap

At least three police officers were killed and a dozen more wounded Saturday when a Taliban suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed, US-made armoured vehicle into a compound in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

On Thursday, three blasts rocked Kabul, killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more, even as US and Afghan officials pledged to speed up their efforts to reach a negotiated settlement.

Story highlights

The apparent development comes after Taliban negotiators sat with Afghan representatives at a so-called intra-Afghan dialogue brokered by Germany in Doha this month.