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Former Warlord Joins Afghan President in Call for Peace

Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 4, 2017.

A former Afghan warlord who became the first insurgent to sign on to a peace deal has arrived in Kabul with an entourage of more than 100 pick-up trucks packed with his men, some brandishing automatic rifles and rocket launchers.

Thursday's appearance in the Afghan capital was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's first in 21 years.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed Hekmatyar to the presidential palace. Ghani is championing a peace deal he hopes would be embraced by others.

But Taliban spokesman, Zabihulah Mujahid, promptly told The Associated Press over the telephone the insurgents consider Hekmatyar's visit to Kabul insignificant.

Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami group was thrown out by the Taliban in 1996, when the insurgents imposed their harsh brand of Islamic rule across Afghanistan, at the same time ending brutal infighting among militant groups.