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Guterres welcomes ceasefire announcement by Taliban, Afghan govt

Kabul, May 24 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the announcement by the Taliban and the Afghan government of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday in peace.

In a statement, Guterres urged all parties concerned to seize this opportunity and embrace an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, reports Xinhua news agency.

Only a peaceful settlement can bring an end to the suffering in Afghanistan, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, in the statement.

The UN has been committed to supporting the people and government of Afghanistan in this important endeavour, said the statement.

The Taliban have announced a three-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr, starting from Sunday.

“In order that our countrymen may celebrate their Eid festivities in ease and comfort, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (name of the ousted Taliban regime) orders all the Mujahideen to adopt special preparatory measures for the safety of our countrymen and not to attack the enemy in any place but if there is attack from enemy in any place then a befitting defensive response shall be given,” the group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.

The spokesman also urged the fighters not to go to areas under the control of the government.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has welcomed the announcement.

“I welcome the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban. The Afghan government extends the offer of peace.

“As commander in chief I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces)to comply with the three days truce and to defend only if attacked,” Ghani tweeted.

The three-day Eid al-Fitr is to be observed on Sunday to mark the end of Muslims fasting month of Ramzan.

–IANS

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