KABUL (Dispatches) – The leader of the Taliban said Wednesday that militants were committed to a deal with the U.S., despite being accused of carrying out attacks in Afghanistan since it was signed.
Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington "not to waste” the opportunity offered by the deal to end America’s longest war in a rare message released ahead of next week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
"I urge American officials to not afford anyone the opportunity to obstruct, delay and ultimately derail this internationally recognized bilateral agreement”, Akhundzada said in a statement.
After months of negotiations, the Taliban and U.S. signed a deal on February 29 which stipulates Washington will withdraw all troops by next year.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has made it a priority to end the war in Afghanistan, and in a bid to pull out foreign troops U.S. officials have been pushing the Taliban and Afghan leaders to hold talks.
In another development, fifteen Taliban militants surrendered and handed over their weapons in Afghanistan’s northern province of Baghlan on Wednesday, as the government has been trying to reconcile the militants after more than two decades of insurgency.
"I and my subordinates have found out that Taliban militants have turned away from the right path and they are fighting to harm Afghans so we decided to quit that wrong pathway and join the reconciliation process,” Mohammad Zaman, the leader of the group, told a ceremony here.
He also called on fellow Taliban members to join the process.
Acting provincial Governor Abdul Qadim Niazi said at the same event that the men, who surrendered to a provincial branch of National Directorate of Security (NDS), or national intelligence agency, were active in remote Tala Wa Barfak district.