Imran welcomes Ghani’s offer for Taliban talks

Imran welcomes Ghani’s offer for Taliban talks
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ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan has welcomed an offer from Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to hold direct talks with Taliban without preconditions.

“There is no other option except to initiate dialogue between the warring sides in Afghanistan,” said Khan in a telephonic conversation with Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal on Friday.

“A peaceful Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan and every effort should be made to achieve a lasting peace,” he said.

The Afghan envoy thanked the PTI chief for endorsing Ghani’s policy to end the conflict in the war-torn country.

Khan’s remarks came two days after Ashraf Ghani offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group as part of a proposed political process that he said could lead to talks aimed at ending more than 16 years of war.

The offer, made at the start of an international conference aimed at creating a platform for peace talks, adds to a series of signals from both the Western-backed government and the Taliban suggesting a greater willingness to consider dialogue.

Ghani proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners as part of a range of options including new elections, involving the militants, and a constitutional review as part of a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that last year alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 Afghan civilians.

“We are making this offer without preconditions in order to lead to a peace agreement,” Ghani said in opening remarks to the conference attended by officials from around 25 countries involved in the so-called Kabul Process.

“The Taliban are expected to give input to the peace-making process, the goal of which is to draw the Taliban, as an organisation, to peace talks,” he said, adding that he would not“pre-judge” any group seeking peace. APP/AFP

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