Lahore: Extending on olive branch, the United States has said that the new Taliban leader Mawlawi Haibatullah is not on its list of designated terrorists and urged him to opt for peace, not war.
“No, he’s not. You asked if he was on the designated terrorist (list), he’s not,” U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told a news briefing.
Last week a U.S. drone killed Mawlawi Haibatullah’s predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in a remote area of Balochistan and on Monday the Taliban elected him as their new chief.
“We would hope that he would seize the opportunity. He does have an opportunity in front of him to choose peace and to work towards a negotiated solution. We hope that he makes that choice now,” Toner said.
When asked if another drone attack is in store for the new Taliban Chief if he rejects the peace process, Toner said: “I’m not going to predict who we might target in the national security interests of the United States.”
US President Barack Obama had said in a statement that Mullah Mansour was killed because he had rejected efforts to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence that took the lives of countless Afghan men, women and children.
Obama said that Mullah Mansour’s death had created an opportunity for peace and “the Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict – joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability”.