Afghanistan ready for Taliban negotiations: High Council for National Reconciliation

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Afghanistan’s chief of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, told Al Arabiya on Sunday that the Afghan delegation is ready for next week’s negotiations with Taliban that marks another attempt to reach a long-term ceasefire after the country’s 18 years of war.

Obstacles that stood before the peace talks, including the issue of prisoners, were discussed by A Loya Jirga, the Afghan assembly of tribal leaders, at a meeting earlier this week, according to Abdullah.

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“It was like a guidance to our negotiating team to preserve the values which the people of Afghanistan have made sacrifices for,” Abdullah said.

The possibility of peace has emerged in Afghanistan after the US and the Taliban signed a peace deal in February, creating a path for the US to gradually pull out of its longest war – but experts expected the move to complicate talks between warring sides in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government said it stood ready to negotiate and conclude a ceasefire with the Taliban, and it affirmed its support for the phased withdrawal of US and coalition forces subject to the Taliban’s fulfillment of its commitments.

Abdullah also talked about the Pakistani role in the reconciliation process, saying that the Pakistani leadership said that it will be supportive of the peace process, but added that “the background [of the official stance] is different.”

The war, which has killed tens of thousands of people, began when the United States launched attacks on Afghanistan just weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington by the Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda militant group.

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