Taliban show conciliatory face at first Kabul news conference

·2 min read
Taliban forces in Kabul

KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban held their first official news conference in Kabul on Tuesday, promising to respect the rights of women, seek good relations with other countries and not to extract retribution on former members of the Afghan military.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the movement's main spokesman, echoed assurances from other Taliban officials who have sought to calm fears that the swift seizure of Kabul would lead to a repeat of the public executions and punishments that marked the movement's previous time in power two decades ago.

"We don't want to repeat any conflict, any war again, and we want to do away with the factors for conflict," he said through a translator. "Animosities have come to an end, and we would like to live peacefully. We don't want any internal enemies and any external enemies."

He said a new government would be formalised as soon as the unstable conditions in Kabul permitted.

The rights of women, one of the main focuses of international concern in Afghanistan, would be respected and they would be allowed to work and study and be active in society "but within the framework of Islam."

Promising an amnesty for former members of the Afghan army and police, he said translators and contractors who worked with international forces since 2001 would not be harmed.

"Nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to knock on your doors," he said, adding that the Taliban hoped the large crowds of people frantically trying to board flights out of Afghanistan would stay and help rebuild their country.

He also pledged that Afghanistan, source of most of the world's heroin according to a U.N. drugs control agency, would be free of narcotics, asking the international community to help it develop alternative crops for farmers who have relied on opium poppies for their livelihood.

(Reporting by Kabul bureau and Umar Farooq in Islamabad; writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Jon Boyle and Jane Merriman)

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