The Taliban said on Saturday that they would not participate in international peace talks, citing what they claimed were increased American airstrikes and Afghan government military operations.
The talks, convened by the United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, were expected to start this month in Pakistan. Taliban envoys were expected to join the discussions after being pressured by the Pakistani government, which provides the insurgents with sanctuaries inside its territory. Afghan and Pakistani government officials said the talks would continue despite the Taliban statement, but pushed the start date back to sometime later this month.
In a statement posted on the insurgents’ website, the Taliban denied that a representative would attend the talks. “We reject all such rumors and unequivocally state that the esteemed leader of Islamic Emirate has not authorized anyone to participate in this meeting,” read the statement, posted in English.
“This is just public bargaining on the part of the Taliban,” said an official close to President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the subject is a delicate one. “They did it last time, too. They put out a statement of denial, and then they showed up to talks.”