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Panjshir Resistance leader says ready for talks if Taliban leave province

The Islamist Taliban took control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, taking power in Kabul on Aug. 15 after the Western-backed government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

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Kabul: Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the resistance forces in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Panjshir, stated on Sunday his readiness to cease fighting and start negotiations if the Taliban leaves the province.

“The national resistance forces are ready to immediately stop the war to achieve a lasting peace if the Taliban cease their attacks and military operations in Panjshir and Andarab, and hope to hold a large meeting with scholars and reformers, and continue discussions and talks,” Massoud said in a statement posted on Facebook.

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The Islamist Taliban took control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, taking power in Kabul on Aug. 15 after the Western-backed government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

“The NRF in principle agree to solve the current problems and put an immediate end to the fighting and continue negotiations,” Massoud said in the Facebook post.

“To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab,” he said, referring to a district in the neighbouring province of Baghlan.

A large gathering of all sides with the Ulema council of religious scholars could then be held, he said.

Earlier, Afghan media outlets reported that religious scholars had called on the Taliban to accept a negotiated settlement to end the fighting in Panjshir.

There was no immediate response from the Taliban.

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