Afghan president urges Taliban to hold peace talks with gov't

Monday, 2019-01-28 19:15:19
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An Afghan policeman checks a vehicle at a security checkpoint on the way leading to Jaghori district in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, November 7, 2018. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on January 28 called on the Taliban to give up fighting and engage in direct talks with the government of Afghanistan to find negotiated settlement to the country's prolonged crisis.

"I am calling upon the Taliban to initiate serious talks on return of lasting peace to Afghanistan," President Ghani said in his televised speech after meeting Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation.

Khalilzad, who held talks with the Taliban representatives in Qatar's capital Doha last week, visited Kabul and briefed President Ghani on his six-day consecutive talks with the hardliner Taliban outfit on January 27.

Media reports suggested that the United States, in the talks with Taliban, had agreed to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and the armed group would announce ceasefire after the White House declares a timetable for pullout of its the troops.

Cautiously commnenting the reported agreement in the Doha talks, President Ghani said, "We don't want to see the repetition of the then (President Mohammad) Najibullah's regime collapse and we are aware of the possible risks that threat the country after peace."

Najibullah's regime collapsed in 1992 which was followed by factional fighting that lasted for several years.

"We should not forget that the victims of the current war are Afghans, so the peace initiative must be at the hand of Afghans. At the same time, none of the Afghans wants the foreign forces to stay in their country for the long term," he noted.

"I and the people of Afghanistan want peace but it should be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process," the president asserted.

Afghans want to see end to the ongoing crisis, he said, adding no Afghan likes to witness suicide bomb attacks in mosques, parks or other places that claim the lives of people.

The presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is based on a bilateral agreement recognized by the international community, President Ghani said. However, the president added that the presence of foreign forces would come to zero based on a comprehensive plan.

The Taliban has repeatedly rejected the offer to talks with the Afghan government directly, saying no dialogue would be held with the Afghan government in the presence of foreign forces in the country.