Decent progress had been made at talks with a group of senior Afghan politicians in Moscow but that there had been no breakthrough in their bid to end 18 years of war and that further talks would be needed, a Taliban official said on Thursday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) and representatives of Afghan government Din Mohammad Azizullah (L) and the Taliban Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai (R) pose for a photo prior to international talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Russia, November 9, 2018. (Photo: VCG)
The delegation, led by chief Taliban negotiator Mullah Baradar Akhund, met politicians, including senior regional leaders and candidates challenging President Ashraf Ghani in this year's presidential election amid gathering diplomatic efforts to end the war.
"We are satisfied, that was successful negotiations, and we hope to continue this tempo in the future," Mohammad Sohail Shaheen, the chief spokesman for the Taliban delegation, told reporters after the meeting.
The meeting between senior Taliban officials and a diverse group of politicians was the latest step in efforts to reach a peace settlement.
Shaheen said a ceasefire proposal had been discussed but he gave no details. He also repeated the Taliban demand that international forces must leave Afghanistan for any peace deal.
"We will be firm: withdraw the foreign troops, we will be firm that there should be a stable government in Afghanistan and that all Afghans should have participation in future government," he said.
Speculation has been growing that the Taliban could agree to a temporary ceasefire over the three-day Eid holiday next week to follow a truce last year that gave the first concrete glimpse in years of what peace could be like in Afghanistan.
One member of the Taliban delegation said Russian officials as well as religious leaders and elders had asked for a ceasefire. While the insurgents would probably order a halt in the fighting, it was unlikely that any ceasefire would be announced publicly.
"Still some more meetings to take place in this regard but most probably we may not announce a ceasefire," the Taliban official said.
The Taliban have been talking for months with US diplomats to agree the withdrawal of more than 20,000 international troops from Afghanistan in return for guarantees the country would not be used as a base for militant attacks.