Afghan Taliban say they want to end war

In a rare statement to the American people, the Taliban in Afghanistan said they wanted to end the country's 17-year war through talks, while warning the message should not be seen as a sign of weakness and the fight against US forces would go on.

A more aggressive US strategy in Afghanistan including a surge in air strikes introduced by President Donald Trump in August has pushed the Taliban back from several district centres and two provincial capitals.

But the militants control large parts of the countryside and have responded with two attacks in Kabul in the past few weeks, killing nearly 150 people.

The attacks have toughened both the US and Afghan governments' stand against initiating talks with the insurgents, although neither side seems capable of winning the conflict.

"Our preference is to solve the Afghan issue through peaceful dialogue," the Taliban said.

The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and defeat the US-backed government, said the United States must end its "occupation" and accept the Taliban right to form a government "consistent with the beliefs of our people".

An Afghan government spokesman declined to comment on the statement.

But a spokesman for Afghanistan's NATO-led military mission said the recent Taliban attacks on civilians demonstrated they were not ready to enter "good-faith peace negotiations."

"The Taliban statement alone does not show willingness to engage in peace talks. The recent attacks speak louder than these words," said the spokesman, Captain Tom Gresback.

The Taliban said it was not too late for the American people to realise the Taliban can solve problems with every side "through healthy politics and dialogue", adding the chances for dialogue were "not exhausted".

The Taliban said their willingness to play a "constructive role in finding a peaceful solution" should not be taken as a sign of weakness.

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