Afghanistan’s president asks Taliban to join peace talks

Afghanistan’s president asks Taliban to join peace talks

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani presented a detailed peace offer to the Taliban leadership on Wednesday, outlining a deal for negotiations that could meet the group’s demands for political recognition and release of prisoners.

The first day of the Kabul Process, a conference to push forward Afghan-led peace talks, started with Mr Ghani’s appeal for a ceasefire, following the Taliban’s bloody insurgency since it was toppled from government in late 2001.

The Afghan president also acknowledged the need for engagement with Pakistan. The two countries have seen relations plummet in the past two years, with border skirmishes and accusations from Kabul that Pakistan continues to provide shelter to attackers who have besieged Afghan cities. The violence has added to millions of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.

The two day conference includes delegates from 25 countries and several international organisations.

“We will be ready to start talks with Pakistan and forget the past and start a new chapter,” President Ghani said in his opening statement.

Among the courtesies extended, Afghanistan’s government would be willing to provide passports to Taliban members and visas to their families, allow the group to open a political office in Kabul, and will work to remove sanctions against the group’s leaders.

The key document, titled Offering Peace: Framing the Kabul Conference, stressed an urgent need for a political process, without violence and conflict.

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