ISLAMABAD - Afghanistan's president has thanked fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar for backing talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
President Ashraf Ghani said in his Eid message Friday that dialogue is the only way to resolve the conflict and "end the bloodshed."
Ghani said it is important that the Taliban "wants to join the political process."
Mullah Omar, in his Eid message two days ago, endorsed the opening round of direct talks between the Afghan Taliban and representatives of the government.
Unprecedented defense of talks
Mullah Omar annually releases messages in connection with the Eid festival justifying the group’s war in Afghanistan, but Wednesday’s statement offered an unprecedented defense of the recent engagement with Afghan and foreign peace negotiators.
The reclusive Taliban leader said the dialogue is a religiously “legitimate” strategy aimed at driving foreign troops from Afghanistan and establishing a “pure” Islamic state in the country.
The talks were organized by neighboring Pakistan in the tourist city Murree close to the capital, Islamabad.
Representatives of the United States and China attended the discussions as observers.
Eid al-Fitr is a major Muslim holiday that follows the fasting month of Ramadan.
President Ghani has said the next round of peace talks will be held within the next two weeks, and the Taliban should come to the table with a list of their demands in writing.
The Afghan leader did not say where the talks would take place, but expressed confidence the new round will lead to a sustained peace and reconciliation process.