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Taliban criticize parts of EU peace talks statement

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani

Kabul, May 31 (UITV/IANS)- The Taliban has criticized parts of a recent European Union (EU) statement on peace talks, saying the proposed measures would violate Afghanistan's sovereignty.

"We have constantly shown commitment to non-interference in the internal affairs of others in our statements," a statement from the group's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday.

"We also expect others to not interfere in our internal affairs nor complicate the issue of Afghanistan even further.

"The future governance system in Afghanistan shall be chosen by the Afghans in intra-Afghan negotiations" it added.

The group, however, welcomed the European Council's support for the peace negotiations, reports Efe news.

In a statement on Friday, the bloc said: "The EU will condition its future political and financial support to ensure that the republican, democratic and values-based principles are protected and further promoted."

It also called on the Taliban to build trust and confidence, allowing the prompt start of intra-Afghan negotiations.

The EU said it was ready to contribute to the stabilization of Afghanistan, support institutional reform and capacity-building, including in the sectors of security and defence.

It would also assist with the reintegration of former fighters as well as their families and the victims of conflict.

The EU's call for a ceasefire came days after the Taliban declared a three-day ceasefire from May 24-26 during Eid and the level of violence remained significantly low compared to recent weeks.

The Afghan government said it welcomed the EU Council's support for Afghanistan.

"The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan welcomes the recent decision of the Council of the European Union for its support for the peace process and development of Afghanistan and to stand by Afghanistan in the future" the presidential palace said in a statement on Saturday.

It also appreciated the EU's "continued support" for strengthening democracy, human and women rights in Afghanistan.

The chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, told a press conference that the members of the leadership committee in the negotiations would be finalized in the coming week.

"We consider today as the official start of the work."