Afghan president for peace talks with Taliban

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Kabul, Feb 11 (IANS) Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday that his government will continue to encourage the Taliban groups to join the peace talks and the national reconciliation process.

“The message of the peace is clear. We want peace, but we want peace with dignity, we want peace talks that must be stand on the basis of our constitution and that we want peace that must guarantee the rights of our people,” Ghani told a gathering at an Afghan Air Force base here.

The comment coincides with the potential resumption of government-Taliban peace talks and the launch of the fourth round of four-nation meeting of Afghanistan, China, the US and Pakistan on Afghan peace process to be held in Kabul on February 23, reports Xinhua news agency.

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The last meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) was held in Islamabad on February 6. The QCG agreed to set a date for the Afghan peace talks by the end of February.

The first ever direct talks between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban were held in Pakistan in July last year but the process was scuttled after the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

“All Afghans want the peace to return to their country but members of opponents who decline to take part in political negotiations would only marginalize themselves, and they will only serve the enemies of the country,” the Afghan president added.

Ghani and other leaders have repeatedly offered peace talks with the Taliban. But the insurgent group has rejected the offer, saying there will be no talks until foreign troops leave the country.

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The US and NATO-led troops completed their combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, after 13 years of military presence.

They switched from combat to support mission, which focuses on training, advising and assisting Afghan forces since January last year.

Nearly 13,000 foreign forces are stationed in the country.

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