Afghan Taliban to NATO summit: Get out now
Afghanistan's Taliban have sent a message to NATO leaders at a major summit in Chicago, calling the "war on terror" an excuse for colonisation and urging them to follow the French lead and get out.
A statement on the Taliban website, Voice of Jihad, says no Afghans were involved in Al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington that prompted a US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The statement fails to mention that the invasion in late 2001 followed a refusal by the hardline Islamists, who were then in power, to hand over Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was based in the country.
"The American intelligence networks including the CIA state that members of Al-Qaeda have all left Afghanistan," the Taliban statement says.
"Therefore the military presence of America is not for its own security but a long-term strategy for turning our country and the region into its colony."
The statement hails the decision of France's new president, Francois Hollande, to pull French combat troops out this year, two years ahead of NATO's schedule.
His decision is "based on realities and a reflection of the opinion of its nation", the Taliban say.
"We call upon all the other NATO member countries to avoid working for the political interests of American officials and answer the call of your own people by immediately removing all your troops from Afghanistan."
Opinion polls in several countries providing the 130,000 troops fighting the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan show that war-weariness has set in and most people back an early withdrawal.
Charging foreign forces with abuses of human rights, torture within "secret prisons" and the killing of civilians, the Taliban asks how they can "justify this savagery in Afghanistan at the hands of these self-proclaimed civilised men?"
The Taliban were notorious during their rule from 1996 until 2001 for their brutal suppression of human rights.
More than 50 world leaders were gathering in Chicago Sunday for one of the biggest NATO summits in history, aiming to hammer out a unified exit strategy from Afghanistan after a decade of war.
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