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NATO urges Afghans to benefit from “historic” peace opportunity

AT News

KABUL: NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg called on the Afghan warring parties to benefit from the presently “historic opportunity” for peace in Afghanistan.

“I spoke to President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah (Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation) to welcome the upcoming start of intra-Afghan talks,” Stoltenberg said in a tweet on Monday.

His conversation with the top Afghan leaders comes amid a slight optimism towards the Afghan peace process after the Consultative Loya Jirga (traditional assembly), called for the release of the 400 Taliban prisoners to lay out long waited intra-Afghan negotiations. The 400 prisoners – who are the remaining of the 5,000 prisoners – whose release was agreed in a US peace deal with Taliban on February 29th that also pave the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan, were involved in major crimes, the Afghan officials said.

To boost up the Afghan peace efforts, Stoltenberg said that NATO adjusted its presence in the country. “NATO stands with Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism,” he added.

Following the approval of the Loya Jirga for the release of the Taliban prisoners, President Ashraf Ghani on Monday signed a decree that allowed the release. The Taliban, who had been denying toset on direct talks with the government before the release of its all inmates, said that the intra-Afghan negotiations would be started within a week after the completion of the release process.

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