ISE-SHIMA, Japan, May 26, (Agencies): Hopes of negotiating peace with the Afghan Taleban’s new leader were swiftly fading from all sides Thursday, as US President Barack Obama warned the extremist movement will continue killing in Afghanistan. Obama told reporters in Japan, where he is meeting with other leaders of the Group of Seven nations, that he doubted the insurgents would come to the table “anytime soon”.
“We anticipate the Taleban will continue an agenda of violence,” he said. Obama was speaking the day after the militants named Haibatullah Akhundzada as their new leader, elevating a low-profile religious figure in a swift power transition after the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike.
Analysts have said it is unclear if Akhundzada, who faces the enormous challenge of unifying the increasingly fragmented militant movement, will emulate his former boss in shunning peace talks with the Afghan government.
But the US killing of Mansour showed that Washington has at least for now abandoned hopes of reviving the direct peace talks between Kabul and the Taleban, which broke down for the first time last summer. Obama acknowledged that he was never going to find a willing negotiating partner at the helm of the extremist group. “I was not expecting a liberal democrat to be appointed,” he told reporters.
Furthermore, the foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister said Thursday that “all indicators” confirmed that the former Taleban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike in the country’s southwestern Baluchistan province, where he was travelling under a false name with fake Pakistani identity documents. At a news conference in the capital, Islamabad, Sartaj Aziz said authorities were awaiting DNA test results, after which Mansour’s body will be handed to his relatives. Mansour had entered Pakistan from Iran under a false name, with a Pakistani ID card and passport, Aziz said.
He refused to elaborate, saying that Pakistani authorities were still investigating the reason for Mansour’s trip to Iran. Local authorities have detained two officials from southwestern Baluchistan who helped Mansour obtain his Pakistani national identity card, the interior ministry said. Aziz condemned the US drone strike, saying it was a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty” and said Pakistan had “conveyed our serious concern to the United States on this issue.”