Any decision on peace would be led by Afghan government, President Ghani

KABUL: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad discussed issues relating to the peace process, a statement from the Presidential Palace said Monday.
Members of the Peace Consultative Board, a negotiating delegation, some prominent politicians, political parties’ representatives, a number of scholars, members of civil society, youth, women, representatives of the private sector, some members of the house of people, and a number of high-ranking government officials have attended the meeting, held at the Delkusha Palace, the statement said.
The statement quoted the president as saying that recently some key issues have been discussed about the peace process, but more action needed to achieve a lasting peace in the country.
“Complete trust and a government to governmental firm relation are secured based on the mutual interests has been strengthened between the two countries and are still steady,” he said adding they sharing cooperation to jointly work for peace.
He added that the government has agreed on a new framework with Dr. Khalilzad and that the related information will be shared and consultations will go on, in the light of which, any actions will be taken.
During the meeting, he said he wanted the Taliban and Pakistan to clarify relation with each other, and to explain what the relation was based on, as well as connection between them and the terrorist networks and their connection with economic crimes, the statement further said.
Meanwhile Dr. Khalilzad said that they were going forward with the peace process, in light with the new plan.
According to the statement, the US’s goal, along with Afghanistan, was an effort through diplomatic channels to establish lasting peace in the country, in order to maintain the interests of both countries and to reduce the cost of war.
Dr. Khalilzad said the US is serious about the Afghan government and the people of Afghanistan being part of the peace process, but they want lasting peace that sees all values and achievements being preserved. He said there should be a point where the 40-year crisis ends.
“Our goal is not to find a way out, but our goal is to provide lasting peace in Afghanistan, and the expansion and strengthening of the two countries’ post-peace relations will be discussed with the Afghan government,” Khalilzad said.
Pointing to the importance of the regional countries role in the peace process, Khalilzad said they were seeking peace and end of the 40-year old war, not in favor of any type of peace.
“Peace is beneficial for both the region and Afghanistan,” said Khalilzad.
He went on as saying the recent establishment of ground and air corridors for trade has shown that many opportunities still exist that could benefit all regional countries, including the neighboring Pakistan.
Khalilzad said Pakistan needed to take practical steps in the peace process and added that although limited progress on the peace process has been made, it is still promising.
“The US team discussed four topics at the recent meetings with the Taliban. These included Taliban’s links with al-Qaeda, the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, direct talks with the Afghan government and a permanent ceasefire,” said the statement quoting the US’s Afghan peace reconciliation representative.
According to Khalilzad, until an agreement has been reached on the four issues and that progress will not come to the light and the issue of a ceasefire and dialogue with the Afghan government are the most important issues.
Dr. Khalilzad welcomed President Ghani’s initiative to hold a Peace Loya Jirga and that a women advisory meeting in which women activists from 34 provinces of the country were expected to attend, would be in the coming days.

The Kabul Times

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