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Taliban denies discussing ceasefire, dialogue with Kabul

KABUL: The Taliban have rejected the reports that they were discussing a ceasefire and dialogue with the Kabul government during their ongoing talks with the US in Doha.

“This phase is about fleshing out the details of the two issues… the withdrawal of all occupying forces from Afghanistan and not allowing” the country to be used as a base for international militancy,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

He described them as “external” aspects of the 17-year conflict.

“Other issues that have an internal aspect and are not tied to the United States… have not been held under discussion.”

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino had said: “What we’re focusing on are the four interconnected issues that are going to compose any future agreement,” Palladino said — listing them as “terrorism”, “troop withdrawal”, “intra-Afghan dialogue” and “ceasefire”.

He said progress was being made.

The latest round of talks, believed to be among the longest held between Washington and the militants, began on Feb 25 in the Qatari capital.