KABUL: Taliban leader Mullah Omar on Wednesday hailed as "legitimate" peace talks aimed at ending Afghanistan’s 13-year war, in his first comments on the nascent dialogue.
"If we look into our religious regulations, we can find that meetings and even peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited," the reclusive figure said in his annual message on the eve of Eid, the festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
"Concurrently with armed Jihad, political endeavours and peaceful pathways for achieving these sacred goals is a legitimate Islamic principle," he said in a statement posted on the Taliban s official website.
Members of the Afghan High Peace Council sat down with Taliban cadres last week in Murree, a tourist town in the hills north of Islamabad, for their first official talks to try to end the militants bloody fight, now in its 14th year.
They agreed to meet again in the coming weeks, drawing praise from Kabul, Islamabad, Beijing, Washington and the UN.
But while some commanders voiced optimism, many others interviewed by AFP were deeply wary.
The split in responses, with some commanders openly questioning the legitimacy of the Taliban negotiators in Murree, underscored the potentially dangerous faultlines within the movement, particularly between the older leadership and younger.
In the statement, Omar sought to dispel any notion of a split.
"All mujahidin and countrymen should be confident that in this process, I will unwaveringly defend our legal rights and viewpoint everywhere," he said, adding that the purpose of talks was to "bring and end to the occupation" of Afghanistan.