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Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Afghanistan announces week-long 'holiday' ceasefire with Taliban

Afghanistan announces week-long 'holiday' ceasefire with Taliban

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the announcement which he said "shows the seriousness of President Ghani and the Afghan government".

"Even the Taliban political commission say that there could be no military solution, there has to be a political solution".

In March, the Pentagon's inspector general (IG) revealed that the Afghan government has improperly managed at least $3.1 billion provided by the United States for fuel, ammunition, vehicles, and other commodities for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), which includes police and army units.

"The United States and our worldwide partners look to the Taliban to honour the ceasefire and demonstrate their respect for the people of Afghanistan who have long called for a reprieve to the Taliban's campaign of violence", he said.

A spokesman for the Defense Ministry said the Afghan military would be on an "active defensive status" when the truce begins and that he hoped for a positive response.

Meeting in Kabul on June 4, the Afghan Ulema Council also appealed on both Afghan government forces and the Taliban and other militants to agree on a cease-fire, and called for peace negotiations between the sides.

"We will adhere to the wishes of Afghanistan for the country to enjoy a peaceful end to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and support the search for an end to the conflict", said Gen. John Nicholson, who commands USA forces NATO-led non-combat Resolute Support mission in the country.

Nicholson said the ceasefire could free resources for operations against Islamic State, but some would remain to monitor the Taliban and for force protection.

Despite years of military pressure and, more recently, an expanded air campaign by the United States, the Taliban remains strong across Afghanistan and continues to inflict significant losses on the Afghan military.

USA -backed Afghan forces also have stepped up anti-Taliban offensive operations, inflicting heavy casualties on the insurgents and retaking some of the last ground during recent operations.

The Taliban had no immediate public response to Ghani's cease-fire announcement.

In February Ghani unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taliban, including eventually recognising them as a political party.

"The fact is that the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqnai network, has enjoyed sanctuary in Pakistan throughout the past 16 years of conflict".

"It is not a laying-down of arms", a senior official told Reuters.

The insurgency now controls or contests almost half of Afghanistan's 407 districts.

"The United States is ready to participate in the discussion, but we can not serve as a substitute for the Afghan government and the Afghan people".

In this photograph taken on August 10, 2017, an Afghan commando instructor explains how to fire during live firing exercises at Camp Morehead on the outskirts of Kabul.

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