Afghan President Ghani Forms Team for Peace Talks With Taliban

(Bloomberg) -- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani formed a 12-member team to hold peace talks with the Taliban, in a new push after the U.S. called for the need to end its 17-year-old war.

The road-map “has been driven by a sense of true urgency for peace,” Ghani said Wednesday on Twitter. The peace accord with the militant group can be achieved if constitutional rights of all Afghans are secured and the Taliban cut ties with transnational terrorist networks and militants, he said.

The team is led by the presidential chief of staff, Abdul Salam Rahimi, and includes senior government officials, lawmakers and a member from an Islamic council, according to the road-map. U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has called on both Ghani’s government and the Taliban to form negotiating teams to reach a peace deal before the country’s presidential elections next year. Taliban has yet to form any team.

The announcement came as Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are attending a two-day international conference in Geneva on Afghanistan that started yesterday to seek funding and support for an Afghan-led peace process with the Taliban that control or contest half of the country.

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