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NATO says intra-Afghan talks are the only way to peace

AT News

KABUL: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban aimed at ending the war are the only way to achieving lasting peace in the war-torn country.

Stoltenberg made the comments on Monday after a telephone conversation with the U.S. President Donald Trump regarding such pressing issues in Afghanistan as counterterrorism campaign and peace.

In a tweet, NATO chief welcomed the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signed in February, which he touted as the first crucial step towards peace in Afghanistan.

Lasting peace, said Stoltenberg, can be achieved in Afghanistan if there’s intra-Afghan negotiations, governed by Afghan themselves and we support that.

He reiterated the Alliance’s support to the Afghan Security Forces. “I believe that the best way we can do that is to continue to train and help the Afghan security forces so they can create peace and stability in their own country themselves,” Stoltenberg added.

Despite many problems exist in Afghanistan, he said that there is a “huge achievement” that the NATO can gain and that is the strong Afghan Security Forces.

On Sunday, the US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad and US, NATO top commander Gen. Scott Miller met the Taliban’s the representatives in Doha.

 “Both sides discussed the rapid release of the prisoners and commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban.

However the militants’ spokesman have refrain himself from giving further details, a source privy to the Taliban, talking in condition of anonymity, said that the intra-Afghan-talks are likely to be held in Doha as agreed during the initial agreements.

The source has not verified the venue of the intra-Afghan-negotiations, saying that there is an agreement of releasing all 5,000 before the direct-dialogues.

According to the National Security Council, the government has released about 3,000 Taliban prisoners, saying that the rest of the inmates would be freed on condition of reduction of violence.  

The Afghan authority said that the government is fully prepared to engage in direct talks with the Taliban’s representatives.

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