Marine abuse tape won’t affect peace talks: Taliban

Marine abuse tape won’t affect peace talks: Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan
Marine abuse tape won’t affect peace talks: Taliban

In this file photo Afghan Taliban fighters are seen in a pickup vehicle. Insurgents will continue their armed struggle despite peace talks, the Taliban said in a statement. AFP photo

A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban said yesterday that a video showing what appear to be U.S. forces in Afghanistan urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters will not affect efforts to broker peace talks but the insurgents will in the meantime continue their armed struggle, the group said yesterday.

“This is not a political process, so the video will not harm our talks and prisoner exchange because they are at the preliminary stage,” said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. The U.S. military yesterday was investigating the “disgusting” online video, John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The Pentagon has not yet verified the video which shows what appears to be four servicemen, dressed in US military uniform, relieving themselves onto three bloodied bodies on the ground. But spokesman Kirby said: “Regardless of the circumstances or who is in the video, this is... egregious, disgusting behavior, unacceptable for anyone in uniform.” “It turned my stomach,” he added of the video, which was posted on the Live Leak website.

The militant movement’s emailed a statement suggesting that efforts to bring Afghan factions to the table are gathering momentum, but also highlights some of the roadblocks on the way to any settlement, in particular, the Taliban’s insistence that the government of President Hamid Karzai is an illegitimate “stooge” of the West. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militants had been fighting for the past 15 years to establish an Islamic government in Afghanistan “in accordance with the request of its people.” “It is for this purpose and for bringing about peace and stability in Afghanistan that we have increased our political efforts to come to mutual understanding with the world in order to solve the current ongoing situation,” Mujahid said in an emailed statement. “But this understanding does not mean a surrender from jihad and neither is it connected to an acceptance of the constitution of the stooge Kabul administration.” One of the international community’s and Afghan government’s conditions for reconciliation is that the Taliban must accept the Afghan constitution, meaning they must recognize Karzai’s government. Mujahid’s outright rejection of this is likely to be a key obstacle in the peace process.

For the past month, rumors have swirled about the possibility of peace talks between the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan and the Taliban in the Gulf nation of Qatar. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared to acknowledge U.S. efforts to jump-start a peace process with the Islamic militants Jan. 11 in order to help bring an end to the decade-long war. Washington has been mulling releasing several Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo as a confidence-building measure.

Compiled from AP, AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.