The Taliban are not involved in talks between an insurgent faction and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and will not agree to talks until Western troops are withdrawn from the country, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
Karzai's office said on Monday he had held his first direct talks in Kabul with a senior delegation from Hezb-i-Islami, one of the three main insurgent groups in the country.
The Hezb-i-Islami team, which included the son-in-law of the group's leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, brought a 15-point peace plan including a call for all foreign troops to withdraw this year, though a spokesman said the demands were negotiable.
A separate deal with Hezb-i-Islami could markedly change the balance of power on the ground in the east and northeast of the country where the group is mostly active.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said his movement, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the country's name when it ruled from 1996-2001, had not altered its position: that no talks could be held until troops withdraw.
"The Islamic Emirate has a clear position. We have said this many, many times. There will be no talks when there are foreign troops on Afghanistan's soil killing innocent Afghans on daily basis," Mujahid said.
"If the representatives from Hezb-i-Islami are in Kabul for talks, it's their choice," he added.
Taliban, the biggest insurgent group, have their bases in the south, but operate throughout much of the country.
The outgoing U.N. mission chief in Kabul, Kai Eide, said last week he had held meetings with Taliban representatives over the past year, which ended abruptly this year when Pakistan arrested the number two Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Some Afghan officials have said the government had made contact with Baradar, and blame Islamabad for arresting him to ensure that it has leverage over any future talks.
Karzai's spokesman has said the government had no "direct" contacts with Baradar, but declined to comment on whether it had had "indirect" contacts.
Related news reports:Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Mart 2010, 12:25