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Ghani wants Pakistan, Taliban to clarify their ties

KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani and US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad have conferred on a wide range of issues around the Afghan peace process.

The Presidential Palace said on Monday Ghani told the visiting US diplomat that more action was needed to achieve lasting peace in the country.

Members of the Peace Consultative Board, the government’s negotiating team, politicians, representatives of political parties attended the overnight meeting.

Also in attendance were religious scholars, representatives of civil society, youth, women and high- a number of senior government officials, a statement from Ghani’s office said,

The president said his government had agreed on a new framework with Khalilzad. Actions would be taken based on the framework to advance the peace process, he promised.

Ghani was quoted as saying: “We want the Taliban to clarify their relationship with Pakistan. At the same time, we ask Pakistan to explain its relationship with the Taliban…”

On the occasion, Khalilzad said peace was a shared goal of the US and Afghanistan. Diplomatic efforts would be stepped up to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan, he added.

The US was serious about a central role for the Afghan government and people in the peace process to preserve achievements of the past decade and a half.

“Our goal is to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan, and the expansion and strengthening of the two countries’ post-peace relations will be discussed with the Afghan government,” Khalilzad said.

The US was not aiming withdrawal, but sustainable peace in Afghanistan to end the 40-year-old crisis in the country, the US envoy maintained.

Khalilzad said that there were no differences of opinion between the Afghan government and the US on the peace process. Efforts in this regard were in a preliminary stage, he continued. Progress remained limited, but encouraging, he said.

A ceasefire and dialogue between the Afghan government and Taliban were the most important issues, Khalilzad remarked, welcoming Ghani’s initiative to hold a Loya Jirga on peace.

“I have announced holding of a consultative Peace Loya Jirga to let all people contribute to this constructive debate. In coming days, a women’s advisory jirga will be set up and delegates from 34 provinces will attend it,” Ghani said.

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