Let's talk peace in Kandahar, Pres. Ghani invites Taliban

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KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said the government is ready to respond to the Taliban’s demands if the insurgent group ceased bloodshed.

On Thursday, the president arrived in southern Kandahar to assess the province’s security, accompanied by First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, National Security Advisor Dr. Hamdullah Mohib, and some ministers.

About peace, the president said, “what we have done for peace is very clear and shows our intention and determination.”

He said the government declared a ceasefire two years ago, and all people embraced the Taliban. “Why are the Taliban afraid of a ceasefire,” he asked and added: “Peace does not come by killing, insulting one another, but by accepting one another.”

According to him, peace requires moral courage, like that of the Afghan government, which convened a Loya Jirga and released the group’s prisoners.

He said the Taliban wanted the release of 2,000 more prisoners, but they would not be freed as the previous prisoners’ release did not stop the bloodshed.

“Let’s sit in the tombs of Ahmad Shah Baba and Mirwais’ grandfather in Kandahar and talk peace,” the president told the Taliban during his foray to the province.

He stressed that the Taliban should stop the bloodshed and then the government would respond to their conditions.