Afghanistan government negotiators in Qatar have offered the Taliban a power-sharing deal in return for an end to fighting in the war-torn country, a government negotiating source told news agency AFP.
“Yes, the government has submitted a proposal to Qatar as mediator. The proposal allows the Taliban to share power in return for a halt in violence in the country,” the source told AFP.
Meanwhile, the Taliban on Thursday captured a provincial capital near Kabul, the 10th the insurgents have taken over a weeklong blitz across Afghanistan as the US and NATO prepare to withdraw entirely from the country after decades of war.
The militants raised their white flags imprinted with a famous Islamic proclamation over the city of Ghazni, just 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Kabul.
Sporadic fighting continued at an intelligence base and an army installation outside the city, two local officials told The Associated Press.
The Taliban published videos and images online showing them in Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province.
The fighting, meanwhile, raged in Lashkar Gah--one of Afghanistan's largest cities in the Taliban heartland of Helmand province, where surrounded government forces hoped to hold onto the capital after the militants' weeklong blitz has seen them already seized nine others around the country.
Meanwhile, Pentagon on Wednesday said the continued advance by the Taliban is evidence its leaders believe they can take over Afghanistan by force rather than engaging in negotiations.
"The Taliban continues to advance and to assume control of the district and provincial centres that clearly indicate that they believe it is possible to gain governance through force, through brutality, through violence, through oppression, which is at great odds with their previously stated goal of actually wanting to participate in a negotiated political solution," US Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said.
India, meanwhile, said it is closely monitoring developments in the war-torn country. "We're concerned about deteriorating security situation. Our Mission in Kabul issued advisory for Indian nationals earlier this week, advising them to return to India via commercial flights," said MEA Spox on minority community from Afghanistan.
"Last yr, our Mission in Kabul had facilitated return of over 383 members of Hindu & Sikh community in Afghanistan to India. Our Mission in Kabul continues to remain in touch with Afghan Hindu & Sikh community members&we'll ensure provision of all necessary assistance to them," he added.