Afghanistan proposes three-month ceasefire with Taliban

Afghanistan proposes three-month ceasefire with Taliban

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A ceasefire is due to begin in Afghanistan on Monday and will “continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it”, President Ashraf Ghani has said.

Initially, it marks the Muslim Eid al Adha holiday, and comes days after fighting in the central city of Ghazni and in a northern province.

The Taliban, which has said it will free hundreds of prisoners, is reportedly considering a four-day truce during the holiday, which runs from Tuesday to Saturday.

Supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada is yet to give his final approval, however.

Mr Ghani’s office said the ceasefire could eventually run for three months – until the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, which Afghanistan celebrates on 21 November.

“We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” Mr Ghani said.

The United States is ready to support and facilitate talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“It is time for peace,” he added.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg encouraged the Taliban to “demonstrate their concern for Afghans by respecting (the ceasefire)”.

In June, after Mr Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban for about two weeks, the militant group laid down its weapons during the three-day Eid al Fitr festival but rejected a request to extend the stoppage.

The latest announcement arrived a day after clashes in the northern province of Faryab.

At least 150 soldiers and 95 civilians were killed in a five-day battle for control of Ghazni this month.

The United Nations said on Sunday that more than 1,600 civilians had been killed in the first six months of the year – the highest number in the past decade.

(c) Sky News 2018: Afghanistan proposes three-month ceasefire with Taliban