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Afghan Pres. Calls for Eid Cease-Fire  08/19 11:10

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has called for a 
conditional cease-fire with Taliban insurgents for the duration of the Eid 
al-Adha holiday.

   President Ghani made the announcement Sunday during celebrations of the 99th 
anniversary of Afghanistan's independence in the capital Kabul.

   "The cease-fire should be observed from both sides, and its continuation and 
duration also depends on the Taliban stand," Ghani stressed. He added that, 
should the Taliban agree, it will start on Monday. He said he hoped it could 
even last until Nov. 20, which will mark the birth anniversary of Prophet 
Muhammed.

   The Taliban did not immediately respond to the announcement.

   The government had previously announced a cease-fire with the Taliban during 
the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June. The Taliban accepted that three-day 
cease-fire, but later rejected a call by the president to extend it.

   President Ghani's call comes just a day after the leader of the Afghan 
Taliban said that there will be no peace in Afghanistan as long as the "foreign 
occupation" continues, reiterating the group's position that the country's 
17-year war can only be brought to an end through direct talks with the United 
States.

   In a message released on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha holiday, Maulvi 
Haibatullah Akhunzadah said Saturday that the group remains committed to 
"Islamic goals," the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war.

   The Taliban have resurged in recent years, seizing districts across the 
country and regularly carrying out large-scale attacks.

   Earlier this month, the Taliban launched a major assault on the city of 
Ghazni, just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Kabul. Afghan security forces 
battled the militants inside the city for five days, as the U.S. carried out 
airstrikes and send advisers to help ground forces.

   The battle for Ghazni killed at least 100 members of the Afghan security 
forces and 35 civilians, according to Afghan officials.


(KA)

 
 
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