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Afghan-Taliban Peace Talks to be Held Next Week

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Local Editor

The Afghan government formed a 12-member team to hold peace talks with the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani announced in the Swiss city of Geneva on Wednesday.

"I'm pleased to announce today that after several months of intensive consultation with our citizens across the country, we have formulated a road map for peace negotiations," he said at the two-day United Nations conference on Afghanistan to renew a process of development and reform.

"The constitutional rights and obligations, of all citizens, especially women, should be ensured," Ghani added.

He also announced that the negotiating team will be led by presidential chief of staff Salam Rahimi and will include men and women with the "necessary credentials to deal with the key challenges of peace negotiations".

Ghani said he is hoping for a peace agreement in which the Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society, but added that no organization that has ties with "terrorist networks" will be allowed to join the political process.

Relatively, the conference comes at a time when the United States administration is holding direct talks with the Taliban, Afghanistan's largest armed group which was toppled following a US-led invasion in 2001.

The Taliban wants the pullout of international forces as a pre-condition for talks.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war that has dragged on for more than a decade and cost billions of dollars.

Earlier this month, Taliban officials held three days of talks with US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar, aimed at renewing the peace process.

The Afghan government, however, was not involved in these talks.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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