A Taliban spokesman yesterday dismissed the outcome of a conference in London between the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Britain aimed at working towards a peace deal within six months.
But Zabihullah Mujahid, writing on the militia's website, did not appear to reject the possibility of progress in other peace talks. The Taliban have demanded that any negotiations should be between themselves and the United States.
The conference and other "horse trading" were "the real obstacles of effective and fruitful negotiations between the factual sides", Mujahid wrote in English in an apparent reference to that longstanding demand.
He accused Western forces of facing military defeat and using such conferences as propaganda to conceal the deadlock in the country and to "show that some activity and progress is going on".
Analyst Waheed Muzhda, who served in the Taliban government from 1996 to 2001, said the Taliban were under pressure from their backers - including Pakistan - to reach some kind of an accord with the Kabul government.
"But the announcement in London that some sort of peace will be achieved in the next six months has put the Taliban in an uneasy situation. Even if they agree, they can't accept and announce it outright, as this will show they are somehow related to and controlled by Pakistan."