‘Afghan people will have final say on peace process’

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Kabul, July 9 (IANS) The Afghan government has the responsibility to merge the Taliban into the structure of the political system, but it is the Afghan people who have the right to decide the final fate of the peace process, said President Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani made the statement on Wednesday during a visit to the province of Kapisa to assess the overall security situation in the country’s north, reports TOLO News.

“It is our responsibility to merge the Taliban in the structure of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan hich will happen hopefully.

“But we must remember that the final decision about peace will be taken by the people of Afghanistan,” said Ghani.

The statement comes as expectations run high that the direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban will start sometime this month.

Also on Wednesday, members of the government peace negotiating team said they were fully prepared to enter into talks with the Taliban once the date and location were finalized.

“There are different options, we are ready to go to Doha, we hope that the Taliban get prepared as soon as possible so that we can sit together and seek ways for peace and make peace for a common future,” TOLO News quoted Nader Nadery, a member of the peace negotiating team, as saying.

“The core principle and policy for peace is expected to be determined by the High Council of National Reconciliation… Unfortunately, this has not happened so far. We hope this happens soon.

“The Afghan people are eager to see these activities started soon, but we are fully ready for our part,” said Fawzia Kofi, another team member.

The 21-member peace negotiating team is currently working in four groups as part of their preparations for talks with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have sai that the group will not endorse the intra-Afghan talks unless the Kabul government releases its 5,000 prisoners from the jails as per the deal the militant group signed with the US in February.

According to the Afghan government, so far 4,015 Taliban prisoners have been released and that the process will continue.

–IANS
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