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World|politics|July 29, 2020 / 09:12 PM
Afghan government, Taliban agree Eid al-Adha ceasefire
Taliban proposed the ceasefire after President Ghani described progress in a contentious prisoner exchange that has thrown up numerous hurdles to talks starting [Photo: Anadolu]

AKIPRESS.COM - The Taliban has announced a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha starting on Friday, Aljazeera reported.

The move, announced on Tuesday, could signal the start of the long-delayed peace talks after President Ashraf Ghani signalled negotiations with the Taliban could start next week.

The Taliban proposed the ceasefire after President Ghani described progress in a contentious prisoner exchange that has thrown up numerous hurdles to talks starting.

"To demonstrate the government's commitment to peace, the Islamic Republic will soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners," Ghani told officials, referring to the number of inmates the government originally pledged to free under the US-Taliban deal in February.

"With this action, we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week's time," Ghani added.

The president's spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi told the AFP news agency that Kabul would observe the ceasefire, but cautioned the temporary nature of it did not go far enough.

"The people of Afghanistan demand a lasting ceasefire and the start of direct talks between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan," Sediqqi said.

Kabul's readiness to start talks comes after the Taliban last week indicated they, too, are prepared to negotiate after the Eid holidays.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid ordered the group's fighters "to refrain from carrying out any operation against the enemy during the three days and nights of Eid al-Adha so ... our countrymen would spend the Eid with confidence and joy".

But any attack "by the enemy" would be met with force, he added.

The truce is only the third official respite in Afghanistan's conflict since the war started in 2001, with other ceasefires in June 2018 and May this year to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The ceasefires prompted widespread relief across Afghanistan but were short-lived, with the fighters returning to the battlefields straight afterwards to resume near-daily attacks.

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