Taliban steps back from negotiations call
A Taliban spokesman said yesterday that the Islamic militant group would only talk to the US-backed Kabul administration if tens of thousands of Western troops leave Afghanistan.
The hardline movement's spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi had said a week ago that the Taliban were ready to respond positively to President Hamid Karzai's renewed offer of negotiations.
But Ahmadi appeared to be stepping back from that stance on Monday by making the apparently new condition involving the withdrawal of foreign soldiers from the insurgency-hit country.
"If these talks... rescue our country's independence and result in finding a way for the withdrawal of foreign forces, (Taliban) are ready to participate," Ahmadi said in a statement.
But he said that the Taliban did not believe the Afghan government had the authority to meet such conditions.
He also accused the media of misinterpreting comments by the Taliban, saying they were "at the service of the invading forces."
Karzai made the offer of talks with the insurgents on September 9.
In fresh violence a suicide bomber on foot entered a government office and blew himself up Monday in the volatile south, killing eight people, including four policemen, officials said.