Peace talks have gained momentum: Stanikzai
KABUL (PAN): The High Peace Council (HPC) on Tuesday said negotiations with militants had been stepped up and the environment for reconciliation had become favourable, leaving the armed opposition with no pretext for prolonging the war.
Addressing a media briefing in Kabul, HPC Secretary Masoom Stanikzai said that some progress had been made by the peace process during President Hamid Karzai's three-day visit to the United States.
During the trip, both sides agreed on transferring foreign-controlled jails to Afghans, pullback of international troops from villages and handover of the country's air space control -- some of the basic reasons the insurgents often cited for their armed struggle.
Stanikzai said the Obama administration had accepted Afghanistan's conditions for the reconciliation drive and opening of Taliban’s liaison office in Qatar. The bureau would be opened only for peace negotiations, he insisted.
It would be a grave injustice to the masses if the militants did not renounce the insurgency now that most of their demands have been met, according to the official, who underlined regional countries' role in promoting the peace drive.
Each individual and group could hold academic discussions on the reconciliation campaign, Stanikzai said, explaining that the process involved representatives of the government and Afghan rebels.
About contacts with the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan, led by Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, he said: "The peace negotiations made headway, but then came to a halt. However, we can say the parleys have gained momentum this year, when the overall environment improved."
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