Afghan President Ghani invites Taliban to join peace talks

Afghan President Ghani invites Taliban to join peace talks

Kabul (Reuters): Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday invited Taliban to join talks for a durable peace in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

“The Afghan government must be accepting and we will also work on the list of freeing Taliban prisoners”, he opined. “We are making this offer without preconditions in order to lead to a peace agreement,” Ghani said in opening remarks to the conference attended by officials from around 25 countries involved in the so-called Kabul Process.

“The Taliban are expected to give input to the peace-making process, the goal of which is to draw the Taliban, as an organization, to peace talks,” he said, adding that he would not “pre-judge” any group seeking peace.

The comments represented a significant shift for Ghani, who in the past has regularly called the Taliban “terrorists” and “rebels” although he has also offered to talk with parts of the movement that accepted peace.

The Taliban, fighting to restore Islamic rule after their 2001 ouster by US-led troops, have offered to begin talks with the United States but have so far refused direct talks with Kabul. It was unclear whether they would be prepared to shift their stance, despite growing international pressure.

President Ashraf Ghani also expressed his readiness to start government to government talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan for ushering in a new era of peace.

“We will be ready to starts talks with Pakistan and forget the past and start a new chapter,” said Ghani.