Amidst speculation that the Afghan Taliban will reach out to the Northern Alliance at an international conference in France this month, the ultra-orthodox outfit has said it will not negotiate with any Afghan group or government official.
"We accepted the invitation to attend the conference in Paris neither to hold talks with the Afghan government nor with its peace council. We will attend the conference only to share our proposals for resolving the longstanding conflict in our country. There has been no change in our policy vis-a-vis peace talks with a powerless Afghan government," The Express Tribune quoted Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, as saying.
Representatives from the Afghan Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami (HI), an Afghan resistance group led by former premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, are scheduled to meet their arch-rivals face-to-face at the Paris conference to be held from December 20 to 22.
Afghan government officials, opposition politicians - including those from the Northern Alliance - and High Peace Council members will also attend the three-day conference which is likely to discuss a host of issues, including upcoming Afghan elections and post-2014 security.
According to Afghan sources, attendees will include say President Hamid Karzai's adviser Haji Din Muhammad, senior peace negotiator Masoom Stanekzai and Afghan opposition members Dr Abdullah Abdullah and Younas Qanooni.
Senior Taliban negotiator Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar is likely to lead the Taliban delegation at the conference. However, a final decision has not been taken yet since Maulvi Dilawar is on the UN sanctions list, which bars him from travelling abroad.
Hizb-e-Islami's chief negotiator Dr Ghairat Baheer has also confirmed that he will lead his group's three-member delegation at the Paris conference.
"We will explain HI's stand about the promotion of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and share our peace formula with the participants," he said. (ANI)