Afghan national reconciliation council holds 1st meeting

Kabul, Dec 5 : Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Saturday inaugurated the first meeting of the country’s High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) after its establishment a few months ago.

“We held this historic meeting today as the peace talks have entered its second phase. Today’s meeting passes a good message to Afghans and to the international community,” Xinhua news agency quoted Ghani as saying to the 48-member meeting of the HCNR televised live on national TV.

The meeting came as the Afghan government delegation and Taliban representatives have made progress in the ongoing peace talks in Doha, capital of Gulf state of Qatar.

The two sides agreed on a draft topic for the agenda and will soon kick off direct peace negotiations, according to local media reports.

“Entering the process into the second round was a success. No one should be seeking their own interest in peace talks,” Ghani said.

Chairman of the HCNR, Abdullah Abdullah told the participants that Afghan people were in dire need of political unity more than ever and need an urgent inclusive ceasefire.

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“I don’t seek personal interest in the process and without interference in the government’s daily works. Everyone should focus on peace.

“There is a need for regional cooperation for Afghan peace and reconciliation process,” Abdullah said.

He assured that the Afghan government negotiators, who are holding peace negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, were representing “the whole nation and they were doing well in their mission of the peace process”.

He said that from now on, the regular meetings of the leadership committee will take place to discuss the peace process.

“The first demand of the people of Afghanistan is the reduction in violence and a permanent ceasefire,” he said.

Abdullah said peace needs unity, consensus, and inclusivity in words and in action, adding that it also required sacrifices, and “we are ready to fully engage with the Taliban to discuss all issues”.

Also addressing the meeting, former President Hamid Karzai said this was a good step for peace, which is the demand of every Afghan, reports TOLO News.

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He said peace efforts will succeed when there is unity among Afghans and that it is an obligation for Afghans to end the bloodshed.

Former jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf said he is ready to support the efforts of the reconciliation council.

Former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanooni said at the event that the peace process should be taken out of the “two electoral teams”, adding that war is not the solution and a political settlement is the way forward to peace.

The meeting comes as Taliban militants, who had ruled the country before being ousted in late 2001, intensified armed insurgency killing government troops as well as civilians.

More than 35,000 Afghan civilians have died and about 65,000 have been injured as a result of armed conflict in Afghanistan since January 2009, according to figures of the UN mission in the country.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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