Taliban chief Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada has favoured a political solution to the Afghan conflict despite taking control of areas in the war-shattered country. Hibatullah’s remarks in an Eid message comes amid a rise in fighting and lack of progress in intra-Afghan negotiations over the past 10 months when foreign troops are leaving Afghanistan. US President Joe Biden has set Aug. 31 for withdrawal of all American troops. Taliban claim they now control over 200 districts across the country of Afghanistan’s 421 districts. The government disputes the Taliban claim and Afghan officials say forces have retaken several districts from the Taliban. A high level Afghan delegation led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation continued talks with senior Taliban negotiators in Qatar on the second day on Sunday to push the process forward. “The high-level meetings between the Republic & the Taliban negotiation teams continue in Doha for the second day. We are looking forward to a positive & constructive outcome,” Abdullah tweeted ahead of the start of the talks on the second day. Afghan Minister of Peace Sadat Mansoor Naderi, who is part of the negotiations team, has told reporters in Qatar that Afghans could hear “good news”. He did not offer more details. Sources in Qatar say the Taliban have indicated a temporary ceasefire if their 7000 prisoners are released. The Doha agreement says the Taliban remaining prisoners will be released within three months after signing of the agreement. The Taliban chief in his Eid message did not offer any comment about the ceasefire which is the demand of every Afghan but insisted that the security forces should surrender to the Taliban. “In spite of the military gains and advances, the Islamic Emirate strenuously favours a political settlement in the country, and every opportunity for the establishment of an Islamic system, peace and security that presents itself will be made use of by the Islamic Emirate, Allah willing,” Hibatullah said. “We have opened a Political Office for ease of negotiations and political track, have appointed an authoritative negotiations team and are committed to finding a resolution through talks on our part, but unfortunately, the opposition parties are still wasting time. Our message remains that instead of relying on foreigners, let us resolve our issues among ourselves and rescue our homeland from the prevailing crisis,” the Taliban supreme commander said. He asked Afghan soldiers and various new military formations to cease fighting and resistance, to join the Taliban “akin to the thousands of other soldiers who made use of the opening provided” by the Taliban. On foreign relations, he said the Taliban seek good and strong diplomatic, economic and political relations in the framework of reciprocal interaction and mutual agreements with all world countries including the United States following the withdrawal of all foreign forces, and consider such beneficial for all sides. He assured neighbouring, regional and world countries that Afghanistan will not permit anyone to pose a security threat to any other country using our soil, adding that the Taliban similarly urge other countries to refrain from all interference in our own internal affairs. “We assure all foreign diplomats, embassies, consulates, humanitarian organizations and investors that they will not face any problems from our side, rather we will exert all efforts for their protection and security,” Hibatullah said. Afghan government has not commented on the Taliban leader’s statement but in the past such statements were rejected as propaganda.