POST TIME: 1 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Afghanistan to recognize Taliban as legitimate ‘political party’

Afghanistan to recognize Taliban as legitimate ‘political party’

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani yesterday unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognising them as a political party, days after the militants called for direct negotiations with the US, reports AFP. The apparent openness by both sides to some form of negotiations came as civilian casualties have soared in recent months, with the Taliban increasingly targeting towns and cities in response to a new and more aggressive US military policy ordered by President Donald Trump.

Ghani disclosed the framework at the Kabul Process, a regional conference in the Afghan capital focused on bringing peace to the country. He called for a truce, after which the Taliban could become a political party and contest elections.

"A ceasefire should be held, the Taliban should be recognised as a political party and trust-building process should be initiated," said Ghani, in remarks similar to past offers.

"Now the decision is in your hands, accept peace... and let's bring stability to this country," he added.

In return, Ghani said the militants should officially recognise the Afghan government and constitution, a perennial sticking point in past attempts to open talks.

There was no immediate response to Ghani's offer from the Taliban.

However the group's spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid maligned the Kabul Process, tweeting that the conference sought the Taliban's "surrender" at a time when it is "without a doubt a force that has defeated an international arrogant power like America with all its allies and tools at disposal".

His statement was part of a written response from the Taliban to a New Yorker article chronicling efforts towards peace talks by an American expert on Afghanistan, Barnett Rubin.

On Monday the Taliban said it was prepared to enter direct talks with the US to find a "peaceful solution" to more than 16 years of war.