Afghanistan: High Peace Council hopes peace talks with Taliban will take place this year

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) on June 20 said it was confident that big changes could happen regarding peace talks in the war-torn country within the next few months, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

The spokesman for the council, Sayed Ehsan Taheri, said interest in talks among Taliban at different levels has increased and that the institution hopes to kick start negotiations with the group this year.

“The Taliban should accept the demand of the people for a ceasefire extension … Trust should be built among them; and they (Taliban) should sit for talks with Afghans,” Taheri said.

On Tuesday, the National Security Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani, Mohammad Haneef Atmar, traveled to Pakistan where he reportedly met with Pakistani security officials about the Afghan peace talks. It is believed he asked Pakistan for its help to get the Taliban to the peace talks table.

“Optimism is high. We hope that Pakistan will address our request and deliver on its commitments,” Afghan Interior Ministry’s spokesman Najib Danish said.

However, the Taliban resumed their attacks against government forces following a successful three-day ceasefire which ended on Sunday.

Some religious scholars meanwhile said they have also called on the Taliban to respond in a positive manner to the government’s extended ceasefire.

On Sunday President Ghani extended the government’s ceasefire for ten days. However government forces are on the defensive and have been ordered to defend themselves if attacked.

“Government extended the ceasefire. We call on the other side (Taliban) to take a similar step and extend the truce in order to create an environment for peace,” said Attaullah Faizani, a religious scholar.

This comes after Uzbekistan announced this week it is ready to host Afghan government-Taliban talks, and called on the two sides to both extend the ceasefire.

Sergey Kwan

TCA