US President Donald Trump is serious about getting out of Afghanistan, the Taliban told AFP yesterday, outlining the "Islamic system" comprising "all Afghans" that the group says it hopes to establish under any peace deal.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid spoke to AFP via WhatsApp a day after the US said talks with the militants are "on the right path", fuelling speculation of a breakthrough in the 17-year conflict.
The US president's apparent eagerness to pull troops out has weighed on the negotiations, which culminated with six straight days of meetings in Qatar last week.
"It appears that Trump is serious," the Taliban spokesman continued.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996, imposing their brutal interpretation of Shariah law on the country until they were toppled in the US invasion of 2001.
They have since fought an insurgency demanding foreign troops leave and an Islamic state be re-established.
Mujahid said a foreign withdrawal was the first goal.
"Secondly, we want the establishment of an Islamic system," he continued, dampening tentative hopes among Afghans that the insurgents would agree to participate in the existing democratic system built since 2001.
He said they would establish such a system through "negotiations with different political sides, even if they have so far been under the umbrella of the invaders".
Such a system would be based on the principle of shura, or council, with Islamic experts making decisions and "representatives of people and scholars" contributing.
Mujahid said the next round of talks with the US will again take place in Doha starting February 25.