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Iran Press TV

Kerry calls on Taliban to resume peace talks with Kabul

Iran Press TV

Sat Apr 9, 2016 9:53PM

US Secretary of State John Kerry has called on the Taliban militant group to resume peace talks with the Afghan government.

"We discussed our shared goal of launching peace talks with the Taliban," Kerry said on Saturday, during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he landed earlier in the day without making prior announcement of his visit.

"We call on the Taliban to enter into a peace process, a legitimate process that brings an end to violence," he said, adding: "Of course there is hope for peace."

"Democracy requires credible institutions… Even more than that, it requires a willingness of people from different political and ethnic and geographic factions to be able to come together and work for a common good," Kerry continued.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kerry said there was no change in President Barack Obama's plans about US troops in Afghanistan, saying, the president "always has said he will listen to his commanders on the ground."

This is while the US forces in Afghanistan are set to be almost halved to 5,500 from the current 9,800 by the start of 2017, and the new commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, is conducting a review of security before making his recommendations to Washington in June.

The visit comes at a time when the Taliban has regained momentum and started fresh terror attacks on the Afghan government offices and military installations.

On Saturday night, two blasts occurred in the diplomatic area of the country's capital shortly after Kerry left Kabul following meetings with Afghan officials.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington's so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues across the country, despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.

Over the past months, Taliban militants have captured some key areas in the north and south of Afghanistan. The militants have also carried out attacks in Kabul.

This has prompted renewed efforts in the country and by neighbors to revive stalled negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government.

The Taliban say it would not take part in peace talks with the Afghan government until its preconditions are met.

In a statement on March 5, 2016, the militant group said "until the occupation of foreign troops ends, until Taliban names are removed from international blacklists and until our detainees are released, talks will yield no results."

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