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Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani made the offer to extend the unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani made the offer to extend the unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

India welcomes ceasefire extension in Afghanistan

Indian foreign ministry said India hoped the Afghanistan government's gesture would be reciprocated by armed groups and their supporters

New Delhi: India on Sunday welcomed a decision by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to extend a ceasefire against the Taliban militants that was to earlier end on 20 June.

In its statement, the Indian foreign ministry said India hoped the gesture “would be reciprocated by armed groups and their supporters with complete cessation of terrorist violence."

“ We support all efforts that can bring relief to the long suffering of the friendly people of Afghanistan; pave the way for a truly Afghan led, Afghan owned and Afghan controlled peace and reconciliation process in an atmosphere free from terror and violence; and help build a peaceful, secure, inclusive, prosperous, united and pluralistic Afghan nation," the Indian statement said.

Ghani made the offer to extend the unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday. “The details about the extended ceasefire will soon be shared with the people," said Ghani in a televised address, according to Afghanistan’s Tolo news channel. “But I order the forces across the country to be ready for any attack to defend the country and the people," he said.

In a surprise move, the Taliban too had announced a cessation of hostilities to coincide with the festival of Eid marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.

On Saturday, the Afghan president urged the militants to follow the government’s lead and participate in peace talks. He said the government was ready for “comprehensive negotiations" with the Taliban. “All those issues and demands that have been put forth we are ready to discuss them at the peace talks," Ghani said according to a BBC report.

Since the ouster of the Taliban from Kabul by US-led international troops in 2001, the group has made a remarkable comeback, many believe with the support of Pakistan. The Taliban are now believed to control a significant section of the country—almost 14 % of Afghanistan with some 30% contested between the Taliban and the government, while some 56% was believed to be under Ghani government control.

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