United Nations chief welcomes ceasefire in Afghanistan ahead of Eid

United Nations chief welcomes ceasefire in Afghanistan ahead of Eid”

Afghans offered prayers marking the Muslim festival of Id al-Adha on Friday as a three-day ceasefire between Taliban and government forces began, with many hoping the truce will lead to peace talks.

The Taliban and the U.S. government signed the accord in February.

"The Islamic Emirate due to compassion of the Amirul-Momineen and as a goodwill gesture, will release the remaining prisoners of the Kabul Administration before Eid al-Adha, thus completing the release of 1000 prisoners", Tweeted Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman based in Doha.

"The SIGAR report cites Resolute Support as commenting that "[Enemy] violence levels stayed well above historic norms for the majority of the reporting period with reduced violence occurring during the three-day Eid cease fire (May 24-26, 2020) ...

The deal also stated the Taliban and the Afghan government should start direct peace talks on March 10, following the completion of the prisoner swap.

However, the 500 inmates are not on the original list of 5,000 demanded by the Taliban.

"I do not have the right to decide on the release of those 400 Taliban prisoners who are accused of serious crimes", Ghani said, adding that a gathering of Afghan elders would decide their fate. The Afghan government is required to free up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and the militant group has to release 1,000 members of the Afghan security forces and others they have detained.

On Wednesday, Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, met senior Afghan officials in Kabul and discussed the latest developments.

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The president also condemned two recent terrorist attacks, which killed 33 civilians and injured more than 100.

The first round may be held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where a Taliban political team has been living for years and where it negotiated for nearly a year-and-a-half with Khalilzad and his team.

Since signing the February deal, the Taliban have largely refrained from attacking cities and have not hit U.S. troops.

"We want extension of ceasefire so that bloodshed ends". CSTC-A said this has been "perhaps the most complex and challenging period in the last two decades" for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). After two previous ceasefires - in 2018 and May this year - the Taliban immediately returned to the battlefield.

Finally, the Taliban announced last week that they would be ready for talks after the Eid ul Adha holiday at the end of July.

"The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement by the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday in peace", said a statement issued by the United Nations on Thursday.

Thursday's auto bomb exploded as crowds shopped ahead of Eid in the city of Puli Alam in Logar province.

The Taliban said they had "nothing to do" with the blast.

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