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Next talks to discuss Taliban demands: Ghani

KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday said the second round of peace talks due in the next two weeks would focus on Taliban’s demands and problems.
Ghani, who arrived in southeastern Khost province days after a suicide car bombing killed 33 people, was talking to local officials here.
Mubariz Zadran, the Khost governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the president was accompanied by a high-level delegation on his visit to the province.
He was accompanied by Borders and Tribal Affairs Minister Gulab Mangal and a number of his advisors and officials, he said.
Ghani participated in a memorial service for the 33 people killed in the suicide attack last Monday.
The service was held in the Sheikh Zayed University where local officials, tribal elders and family members of the victims were present.
Governor Hakam Khan Habibi assured the president that the people of Khost were united in supporting the government and he was committed to serving his people and improving stability.
The governor also urged the president to equip security forces with advanced equipment, improve the Ghulam Khan Port, build a standard airport in the province and resolve the issue of electricity.
The president, who announced financial assistance for families of the victims, extended his deep condolences to them.
Ghani pledged to work systematically for development of Khost province which he called as strategically important and vowed to convert it to a trade hub during his leadership.
In a reference to the recent peace talks, the president said the Afghans after 14 years had been able to talk face-to-face with the Taliban.
He said the meeting between the government and Taliban officials in Islamabad was a big achievement and the first step to start peace talks.
He said the second phase of the talks would start in the next 15 days, but did not mention a possible venue for the talks.
Ghani said the second round would discuss demands and problems of the Taliban and solutions to them.
Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar on Wednesday also favoured the peace talks as legitimate in a message on the eve of Eidul Fitr.
“If we look into our religious regulations, we can find that meetings and even peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited,” the Taliban leader said.

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