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Taliban head Mullah Mohammad Omar 'ready for peace talk'

The Taliban's reclusive leader has said his group is willing to start peace negotiations - even as he urged more attacks on foreign troops.

In a wide-ranging emailed message, Mullah Mohammad Omar blamed the US and the Afghan government for the derailment of talks two months ago.

He also called on Afghans to boycott next year's presidential elections, describing them as being manipulated by the US.

In a message issued ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the one-eyed chief of the Afghan insurgency urged the army and police turn their guns on foreign forces, government officials and the Afghan troops who are co-operating with the US-led coalition forces.

Striking a conciliatory tone elsewhere in the message, he denied that the insurgents were seeking to monopolise power in Afghanistan and said his group favoured what he described as an "Afghan-inclusive government based on Islamic principles".

He called on Afghans, however, to stay away from the April 5 elections for a new president and councils that will run Afghanistan's 34 provinces, saying the polls are "a waste of time".

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar died in 2013, Afghan officials say 

The reclusive leader has not been seen since he reportedly fled a village in southern Afghanistan on motorcycle three months after the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. There are no known audio recordings of his voice since early 2002 or any pictures. He mainly communicates in messages relayed by his spokesmen.

In the message, Mullah Omar did repeat a key US demand opening the way for peace talks by pledging not to use Afghanistan as a base to threaten other countries, although he again did not openly denounce al Qaida - one of the original conditions set by the United States that was temporarily dropped to get talks going.

"Our fundamental principle according to our unchanging policy is that we do not intend to harm anyone, nor we allow anyone to harm others from our soil," the message said, echoing the original language used by the Taliban on June 18 when they announced the opening of a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Some elements of the Taliban, including the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, are believed to still have ties with al Qaida.


From Belfast Telegraph