Envoy says US ready for 'all sides' to lay down arms in Afghan war
Peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is leading the latest round of talks with the Taliban in Doha, where the two foes are pursuing a deal that would see the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in return for Taliban security guarantees.
"All sides laying down arms is the outcome of any peace process," Khalilzad tweeted.
"All sides agreeing to reduce violence is a necessary step toward achieving that outcome and the morally responsible choice to make. We stand ready," he added
Khalilzad's comments come a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was prepared to call an "immediate" and "permanent" ceasefire.
"If the Taliban are fully ready for a ceasefire, then we can talk about the technical details," Ghani said in a speech during a historic "loya jirga" peace summit in Kabul on Friday.
Taliban has, however, rebuffed the offer.
As a goodwill gesture, Ghani had offered to release 175 prisoners. His talk of a ceasefire comes as momentum builds in various Afghan peace talks.
Thousands of tribal elders and representatives met last week at a massive "loya jirga" peace summit.
The summit was also attended by hundreds of women, amid concerns that the US-Taliban deal would undo advances in women's rights, media freedoms, and legal protections.
"We don't want such a peace that women's rights are not respected, freedom of expression are not ensured, elections are not held," committee member Faizullah Jalal told the summit.
Neither side has said much about progress in their latest talks, which were ongoing Saturday, but Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Friday tweeted that America should "forget about the idea of us putting down our arms".
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