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EU, China call on Taliban to be lenient

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AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: China and the European Union believe the Taliban should have seize President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to recognize the movement as a legitimate political group, the EU’s special envoy to Afghanistan said on Wednesday.

Ghani announced peace plan late last month, but the Taliban has yet to give any formal response to the offer. The plan includes ceasefire, release of prisoners, new elections involving the militants, and a constitutional review.

“China and the EU believe that this is an offer that is meaningful. It is an offer that presents an opportunity and a window that should be seized by all parties across the conflict lines,” EU Ambassador to Afghanistan Roland Kobia said after meeting his Chinese counterpart, Deng Xijun, in Beijing, 1TV has reported.

“We, as the EU, very much hope that the Taliban will respond to that offer to start discussion,” Kobia said.

“In these kinds of scenarios windows open very quickly but they can also close very quickly,” he added.

He said that China had various contacts with the Taliban, but he was not aware of the details.

Taliban are running an insurgency since their ouster in 2001. The conflict kills thousands each year in the country.

Although the Taliban has not given any formal answer to Kabul’s offer for peace, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Tuesday during visit to Kabul that U.S. is seeing signs of interest in talks from elements of the insurgency.

Speaking during an event in presidential palace to mark death anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazari, a former leader of Hizb-i-Wahdat party, President Ashraf Ghani emphasized on a national debate for ensuring peace in Afghanistan.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also reiterated call on the Taliban to join peace talks, adding the group cannot win the war.

Commenting on elections, Abdullah also emphasized that the event will be held on specified time and without any meddling by the government.