Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offers Taliban peace talks and political recognition | News | DW | 28.02.2018
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offers Taliban peace talks and political recognition

The president made the offer at the second "Kabul Process" peace conference in Kabul. Attendees are trying to find ways to end an insurgency that began after the US-led ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

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Afghan president calls on Taliban to join in peace talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban unconditional peace talks and the possibility of political recognition during an international conference in Kabul on Wednesday.

"The government offers peace negotiations to the Taliban without any conditions," Ghani said at the second "Kabul Process" conference. The first Kabul Process took place in 2017.

Officials from 25 countries are attending the event to discuss ways to end a more than 16-year-old conflict between the US-backed Afghan government and the Taliban. The Islamist militant group ruled Afghanistan before a US-led alliance forcibly removed it from power 2001.

Read more: Is the US pressure pushing Taliban toward peace?

Review of the Constitution

Ghani said the government would recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political group if it accepted a ceasefire, entered peace talks and recognized the government and rule of law.

Taliban leaders were not invited to the conference and have so far refused to enter direct peace negotiations with the government.

Ghani added that Taliban members would also be able to get Afghan passports and a Kabul office. In exchange, the government would agree to release Taliban prisoners, remove sanctions against the group and agree to a review of the Afghan Constitution.

Read more: Taliban militants claim responsibility for attack on Kabul hotel

Softer line

President Ghani has regularly called the Taliban "terrorists" and "rebels" in the past. At last year's Kabul Process conference, he warned the Taliban that peace talks were not "an open-ended offer" and that it was the group's "last chance" to accept talks.

But speaking on Wednesday, he laced his offer with a less belligerent tone: "Taliban  leaders and all members, the decision is in your hands. Accept peace, come to the negotiating table and let us build this country together."

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amp/kms (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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