New Taliban leader has opportunity to choose peace

Washington: The new Taliban leader has an opportunity to choose peace and to work towards a negotiated solution to join the Afghan-led peace talks, the US has said.

“We would hope that he would seize the opportunity,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.

Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, a religious leader was appointed as the new leader of the Taliban after the death of Mullah Mansour in a US drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday.

The Taliban has rejected peace overtures from the Afghan government.

“He (Akhundzada) 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 in response to a question.

Akhundzada is not in any terrorist designated list, he said, but did not respond to questions if he is on the target of US forces in Afghanistan.

“I’m not going to predict who we might target in the national security interest of the US,” he said.