Afghan govt-Taliban talks to resume as both agree on ceasefire during Eid-ul-Adha

Afghan govt-Taliban talks to resume as both agree on ceasefire during Eid-ul-Adha

Kabul (Web Desk): The Afghan government and the Taliban finally agreed on resumption of peace talks after President Ashraf Ghani signalled that negotiations could start next week and both sides agreed to a three-day truce.

The truce would start Friday, marking the first day of Eid-ul-Adha, and continue for the duration of the religious holiday.

The Taliban proposed the ceasefire after Ghani described progress in a contentious prisoner exchange that has thrown up numerous hurdles to the resumption of talks.

"To demonstrate the government´s commitment to peace, the Islamic Republic will soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners," Ghani told officials, referring to the number of insurgent inmates the government originally pledged to free under the auspices of a US-Taliban deal in February.

"With this action, we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week's time," Ghani added.

"The people of Afghanistan demand a lasting ceasefire and the start of direct talks between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan," Sediqqi said.

Kabul's readiness to start talks comes after the Taliban last week indicated they too are prepared to negotiate after the Eid holidays.

In a statement, Taliban military spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid ordered insurgents "to refrain from carrying out any operation against the enemy during the three days and nights of Eid-ul-Adha so... our countrymen would spend the Eid with confidence and joy."

But any attack "by the enemy" would be met with force, he added.

The truce is only the third official respite in Afghanistan's conflict since the war started in 2001, with other ceasefires in June 2018 and May this year to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The truces prompted widespread relief across Afghanistan but were short-lived, with the insurgents returning to the battlefields straight afterwards to resume near-daily attacks.