We want to make it clear that we will not hold any meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a brief statement.
Mujahid’s statement dashed hopes for talks between the visiting US delegation and the insurgent group. Khalilzad and other US officials are in Pakistan for the past two days.
Earlier in the day, Pakistani media outlets reported the Taliban had agreed to meet the US delegation and that they would send a 12-member team for talks.
Senior Taliban leaders, meanwhile, acknowledged receiving requests from some regional powers, including Pakistan, for talks with the US delegation and the Afghan government.
But the Taliban are believed to have spurned calls, saying they had repeatedly explained their stance on negotiations with the Afghan government.
“As we know the Afghan government doesn’t have the power to make decisions, why should we waste our time talking to them,” one Taliban leader told The News.
He said the group was ready to continue peace talks with the US if only the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, a prisoners’ swap and the lifting of travel restrictions on rebel leaders were on the agenda.
On Friday, when he held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Khalilzad said he awaited concrete progress on Afghan peace talks.
After talks with Qureshi, the diplomat tweeted he had a “good meeting” in which “the important role regional countries like Pakistan have in helping deliver peace and reconciliation in Afghanis­tan” was discussed
 

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