Taliban releases letter calling for Afghan peace talks with U.S.

U.S. marines fire during a Taliban ambush as they carry out an operation to clear an area in Helmand province, October 9, 2009. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih (AFGHANISTAN POLITICS MILITARY IMAGES OF THE DAY CONFLICT)

In a rare statement addressed to the American people, the Taliban expressed its desire to end the war in Afghanistan through peace talks.

The lengthy statement, which was released Wednesday, also came with a warning that the message should not be taken as a sign of weakness and that its fight against U.S. forces in Afghanistan continues.

“Our preference is to solve the Afghan issue through peaceful dialogue,” the letter said. “America must end her occupation and must accept all our legitimate rights, including the right to form a government consistent with the beliefs of our people.”

The statement promised a more inclusive regime, with education and rights to be provided for all, including women.

The open letter also called for the American people and “peace-loving congressmen,” to urge President Donald Trump to begin negotiations with the militant group. Taliban said that if the policy of using force is used by the U.S. for 100 more years, the outcome will still be the same.

The statement echoes Taliban’s longstanding offer of having direct negotiations with Washington, something the U.S. has repeatedly declined. The U.S. maintains that peace negotiations need to be between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

On the other hand, the Taliban refuses to talk with the Afghan government unless foreign troops are withdrawn from the war-torn country.

The 2,800-word letter also cited statistics from the U.S. and United Nations in an attempt to persuade the U.S. public that the ongoing war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. It said that 3,546 Americans and foreign soldiers had been killed in the war, and it also cited an assessment from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that the Taliban’s control in the country has increased significantly.

It also said that the tens of billions of dollars spent in the war effort have been “collected from you and tax and revenue,” only to be given to “thieves and murderers.”