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Afghanistan declares Eid ceasefire with Taliban

August 19, 2018

It's not immediately clear whether the militant group has accepted Kabul's call for a truce during the Muslim holiday. The "conditional ceasefire" follows a three-day truce during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani lays a wreath at the Independence Monument in the Ministry of Defense compound on Independence Day.
Image: picture-alliance/AA/Handout Afghan Presidency

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday announced a provisional ceasefire with Taliban militants to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

"The conditional ceasefire will start tomorrow and it will continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it," he said in an Afghan Independence Day ceremony in Kabul.

"We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace," he said.

The Taliban have yet to respond to Ghani's offer. But the militant group had surprisingly accepted a ceasefire deal during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June.

The ceasefire, the first in more than 15 years, ended after the Taliban rejected the government's offer to extend it beyond three days.

A senior official in Ghani's office told the Reuters news agency that the latest ceasefire would run for three months, if the Taliban reciprocated.

The ceasefire offer comes days after an intense battle between Afghan forces and the Taliban to control the strategically important city of Ghazni. At least 150 soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day siege.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, welcomed President Ghani's announcement.

"I encourage the Taliban to demonstrate their concern for Afghans by respecting it," he tweeted.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the ceasefire offer "responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan people for peace."

He said Washington was ready to back direct negotiations between the government and the militants.

ap/rc (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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