Thousands of Afghans congregated in Kabul on Monday for a rare consultative meeting aimed at finding ways to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban and end Afghanistan’s war.
The four-day consultative grand assembly, known as a Loya Jirga, is an attempt by President Ashraf Ghani to influence peace talks between the United States and the Taliban, which the Taliban have excluded his government from.
“It is a proud moment for me to have representatives from all over the country here and today we are gathered to speak about the peace talks,” Ghani said in an opening ceremony in huge tent set up for such assemblies in central Kabul.
A Loya Jirga is aimed at building consensus among various ethnic groups and tribal factions and is traditionally convened under extraordinary circumstances.
This week’s meeting, being attended by 3,200 trial elders, and community and religious leaders from all 34 provinces, aims to set out Kabul’s conditions for any peace deal.
But opposition political leaders and government critics, including former president Hamid Karzai, are boycotting the assembly.
The U.S. talks with the Taliban in Qatar are part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to end America’s longest war, which began when U.S.-backed forces ousted the Taliban weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
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