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Peace talks: Afghan national reconciliation council holds first meeting



Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Saturday inaugurated the first meeting of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) after the establishment of the council 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,” Ghani told the 48-member meeting of the HCNR broadcasted live on national TV channel RTA.

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.

“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 gave an assurance 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.”

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

According to figures of the UN mission in the country, 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.

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