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Afghanistan peace summit calls for ceasefire

Afghanistan peace summit calls for ceasefire
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks on the last day of the Afghan Loya Jirga meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday. (AP)
Kabul, May 3 (IANS) | Publish Date: 5/3/2019 11:14:21 AM IST

A five-day summit on peace in Afghanistan ended on Friday with a call for an urgent ceasefire and a schedule for a proposed withdrawal of foreign troops from the war-torn country. The Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, set out its recommendations and urged the government and the Taliban to “announce an immediate and permanent ceasefire with the arrival of Ramadan”, reports Efe news. Asking the Taliban to shun violence, the council called on the warring groups to begin “intra-Afghan talks”.

President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the meeting on Monday. It saw about 3,200 ethnic, religious and tribal representatives and politicians from across the country gather in the capital city under heavy security cover.

At the end of the five-day consultations, the participants issued a 23-article resolution to Ghani and called on the government, the Taliban, the international community and regional countries to “respect the recommendations of the peace jirga”.

They said the constitution and the current political structure of the government should be “maintained and protected” and, if necessary, amendments be brought in only through legal ways. The resolution asked the government “to pave the way to bring the Taliban political office from Qatar to Afghanistan”. Among the key demands, was a timetable to be drawn up in consultation with all related sides for what the participants said was a “responsible withdrawal” of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Taliban leaders have so far refused to negotiate with the government, calling it a puppet of the US. The militant group has been insisting on the withdrawal of foreign forces before talks with the government in Kabul could begin.

To release 175 Taliban prisoners 

Meanwhile, as good will gesture at the concluding of the summit, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the release of 175 Taliban prisoners.

Announcing, the release of 175 Taliban prisoners as a gesture of goodwill towards peace, he called on the Taliban to send their delegation to Kabul or another province of the country to receive them.

Taliban leaders have so far refused to negotiate with the government, calling it a puppet of the US. The militant group has been insisting on the withdrawal of foreign forces before talks with the government in Kabul could begin.  

He added the Taliban have now to make their choice whether they will attend the talks inside Afghanistan or in any of the mentioned countries.

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