ISLAMABAD - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says "serious" reconciliation talks with pro-peace Taliban factions will begin very soon with the goal of reaching an agreement.
At a news conference in Kabul Friday, Ghani said the talks (with Taliban representatives) will start "in the coming weeks and God willing they will reach a conclusion," he added.
Ghani did not say when and where the talks will take place. He said the government will embrace Taliban factions that want reconciliation based on principles but oppose those that refuse to give up violence.
He also said Pakistan will play a role.
“Not only the state of Afghanistan’s national defense and security forces will fight them but neighboring Pakistan also has agreed to join hands and use all means, including military force, in this fight,” the president said.
Ghani underscored the urgency of the talks, saying a result has to be achieved in weeks and months rather than waiting for years.
He added the agreement for jointly addressing the anti-peace insurgent factions was reached during meetings this week in Islamabad involving Pakistani, U.S. and Chinese officials.
The discussions occurred on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia regional ministerial conference as part of efforts to promote peace and economic stability in Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials told VOA after talks with Ghani that the Afghan reconciliation process is likely to get under way as early as next week.
Pakistan hosted and mediated a single round of direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in July, but the process was stopped days later when it was revealed that longtime Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died two years ago, prompting the insurgent group to pull out of the talks until it resolved the leadership issue.
Since then, the Taliban has intensified and expanded its attacks across Afghanistan, and Kabul's accusations that Islamabad is fueling the Islamist insurgency worsened bilateral ties.
On Friday, Pakistan foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz told parliament that President Ghani’s visit and his talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led to the “breaking of ice in the bilateral ties as well as [the] resumption of [the] important Afghan reconciliation process.”
Taliban fighters and commanders are allegedly using Pakistani soil for attacks in Afghanistan.
Afghan officials have long maintained the insurgents are being secretly assisted by the Pakistani military, charges Islamabad rejects.