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Iran welcomes Taliban's ceasefire announcement over Eid al-Adha, hopes for mutually acceptable peace agreement

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the Taliban hand over their weapons and join in the Afghan government's reconciliation and reintegration program in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on June 25, 2020. (Via Reuters)

Iran has welcomed the announcement of a ceasefire by the Taliban militant group over Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice), one of the most important Muslim-calendar events, hoping for a mutually acceptable peace agreement in the war-ravaged country.  

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Wednesday that the ceasefire announcement was "a positive step towards peace and stability" in Afghanistan.

He also expressed hope that "the move by the Taliban will help provide the necessary condition for an agreement in Afghanistan."

"We hope that we will soon see the beginning of intra-Afghan dialogue centered on the Afghan government and with the participation of all political groups, including the Taliban, with the aim of finding a peaceful solution and reaching a mutually acceptable agreement for peace based on the constitution and democratic structures in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," Mousavi noted.

He also reiterated the Islamic Republic of Iran's readiness to contribute to promotion of the Afghan-Afghan dialogue at the request of the parties involved.

The Taliban on Tuesday announced a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha starting on Friday.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid ordered the group's militants "to refrain from carrying out any operation" during the Eid al-Adha celebrations but warned any attack "by the enemy" would be met with force.

The Afghan president's spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said the government welcomed the ceasefire announcement but added that Afghans wanted "a lasting ceasefire and the start of direct talks between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.”

The move, which was announced after President Ashraf Ghani described progress in a contentious prisoner exchange, could signal the start of the long-delayed peace talks.

"To demonstrate the government's commitment to peace, the Islamic Republic will soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners," Ghani told officials, pointing to the number of inmates the government originally pledged to free under a US-Taliban deal in February.

"With this action, we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week's time," Ghani added.

Ghani said that since a US-Taliban agreement signed in February, 3,560 Afghan security forces personnel have been killed in attacks by militants.

He said 775 civilians had also been killed and another 1,609 wounded since the deal.

Separately, a Monday report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said more than 1,280 Afghan civilians had been killed in the first six months of the year, mainly as a result of fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban.

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