Afghan council finalises draft peace agreement with dissident group

Kabul, May 19 (IANS) The government-backed Afghan High Peace Council on Wednesday finalised a draft peace agreement with Hizb-e-Islami, a militant group led by warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, paving the way for reaching a peace deal with the armed outfit, an official statement said.

“The High Peace Council members officially handed over a draft peace agreement to the visiting delegation of Hizb-e-Islami or Islamic Party in Kabul on Wednesday afternoon,” Xinhua quoted Mohammad Khan, deputy to Afghan chief executive, as saying.

The radical faction of Hizb-e-Islami, designated by the US in a terrorist list, has been fighting the government and US-led foreign forces stationed in Afghanistan over the past 15 years.

Welcoming the step taken by Hizb-e-Islami, Khan said that he was optimistic at reaching a result-oriented deal with the Hizb-e- Islami in near future.

“There were no differences over the 26-article draft agreement between peace council members and visiting delegation of the Hizb- e-Islami, it is an initial step for reaching a peace deal but more work were needed and we are more optimistic now,” Khan added.

It is an initial step and the agreement will take effect after the deal is signed by Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and leader of Hizb-e-Islami Gulbudin Hekmatyar, Khan said.

The Hizb-e-Islami is the third-largest militant group after the Taliban and Islamic State (IS) outfits in the conflict-hit country.

–IANS

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