Sep 08, 2019 19:04 UTC
  • Peace comes when Taliban agree to ceasefire: Afghan president

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says real peace is only possible if the Taliban militants agree to a ceasefire and to direct talks with the Kabul government.

The Afghan president, who has been concerned about a draft deal between the United States and the Taliban, said in a statement on Sunday that the Taliban had to agree to a ceasefire in order for real peace to emerge.

“The people and the government of Afghanistan pursue a dignified and sustainable peace and are committed to putting any effort into ensuring peace in the country. However, the government considers the Taliban’s obstinacy to increase violence against Afghans as the main obstacle to the ongoing peace negotiations,” the statement read, referring to the talks between the US and the militants that have produced the interim deal.

The Taliban have rejected calls for a ceasefire and stepped up assaults in recent weeks. Most recently, large groups of the militants have attacked the northern cities of Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri.

The presidential statement said lasting peace required “a strong, legitimate and a legal government through the upcoming elections to take the ongoing peace process forward.”

Meanwhile, Ghani’s main spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, told reporters that Kabul expected the talks to produce a ceasefire, which did not happen.

“We (in the Afghan government) expected an outcome leading to a ceasefire and holding direct talks with the Taliban, but we did not see any real effort from their (Taliban) end,” he said.

"We strongly believe in a process that can be led and owned by Afghan government and Afghan people and that will lead us to a dignified peace, a sustainable peace, and a peace in which Taliban will not kill Afghans anymore, so that's what we think," he added.

Sediqqi had earlier said that Kabul had serious doubts about the draft agreement recently reached between US and Taliban negotiators and wanted further clarification. 

Washington and the Taliban reached the deal in the Qatari capital of Doha on Monday.