Doha :  Taliban militants meeting Afghan officials in Qatar reiterated their hardline stance on peace talks today, ruling out negotiations until US forces leave the country and the insurgents are allowed to open a political office.

A 20-member Afghan delegation over the weekend launched two days of “open discussion” with Taliban representatives in the Gulf emirate in their latest attempt to end Afghanistan’s long war.

The militants emphasised their preconditions for negotiations in a statement read out by their representatives at the meeting and posted on the Taliban’s official website.

“One of the main external obstacle (to talks) is the occupation of our country by Americans… continuing the occupation will mean continuing the war,” the statement said.

“The mother of all these miseries is their invasion, which should end as a first step toward a peace dialogue between Afghans,” it added. The statement came as a Taliban suicide bomber struck a government bus in Kabul on Monday, killing one civilian and wounding 15 others in the latest attack in the annual “spring offensive”.

The insurgents also said they needed to set up a political office for any peace negotiations and demanded that their leaders be removed from a US “blacklist”.

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