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GHANI IN UN SPEECH REITERATES CALL FOR CEASEFIRE

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President Ashraf Ghani delivered a statement on Monday night at the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN, underscoring the important role of multilateralism, and particularly the UN, in addressing the challenges that continue to impact Afghanistan and the world.

“The United Nations that we need is an organization with the authorities, capabilities, capitals, and commitments to fulfill the purposes and principles of this charter," Ghani said.

The Afghan president called on the international community to help the Afghan people achieve the end state of a sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan.

“I would like to take this opportunity to call on every member of the GA and the P5 to help us achieve the end state of a sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan, at peace with itself and the region, capable of preserving and expanding the gains of the last 19 years."

On the importance of the ceasefire, Ghani said: "Though we are facing multiple drivers of turmoil all at once in Afghanistan, there is a clear and urgent priority for us: a ceasefire. An urgent end to the violence will, more than anything else, give us a chance to progress."

President Ghani also highlighted Afghanistan’s geopolitical importance and said: "Afghanistan is a country positioned right at the heart of Asia, right at the heart of untapped potential that could bring prosperity and peace to our region. But this means that we are also right in the middle of the turmoil that is affecting us all today."

Ghani’s address to the UN comes as the peace negotiating team representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan meets with Taliban negotiators in Doha, Qatar to help find a political settlement to the deadly conflict in the country .

Although the Doha talks have brought new hopes among Afghans for a negotiated settlement of the conflict, civilian casualties remain high in the country amid ongoing Taliban violence.

War continues to take Afghan lives

Statistics by the Ministry of Interior Affairs indicate that at least 98 civilians were killed and 230 others were wounded in Taliban attacks in 24 provinces in the last two weeks as violence increases in the country amid the ongoing peace efforts.

“The Taliban has inflicted the casualties on our countrymen in 24 provinces and the most casualties have been in Takhar and Nangarhar provinces,” said Tariq Arian, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

The Taliban has rejected the figures provided by the ministry.

A security source told TOLOnews that an average of 30 security force members have been killed daily in Taliban attacks over the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, at least 50 security force members were killed in clashes over the last 24 hours.

Also on Monday, Ghani at an event for International Day of Peace said peace is possible only through a political settlement and insisted that the government is making efforts to end the forty years of war in the country.

President Ghani said the Afghan government, by agreeing to a ceasefire two years ago, showed that it is possible to make a truce, and he called on the Taliban to end violence and agree to a ceasefire.

“What will you do a day after success? At least we should absorb 60,000 to 120,000 Talib fighters. We have plan for it. We are ready for it. We should embrace four to six million refugees,” Ghani said.

Ghani’s Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh at the same event on International Day of Peace called on the Taliban to not disrupt unity among Afghans when it comes to a religious basis for the peace negotiations in Doha.

Sources have said that out of the three disputed issues in the talks between the Taliban and the Afghan negotiating team, one is the religious basis for the negotiations, which the Taliban is insisting be Hanafi jurisprudence.

“On behalf of the Shias of Afghanistan, I urge the Taliban not to make attempt to disrupt the friendship and unity among the people of Afghanistan,” Danesh said, adding that Afghanistan’s peace “belongs to everyone,” not to any specific group.

 Negotiators from the Islamic and Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban are discussing 20-article rules and regulations for the peace negotiations. The two contact groups are expected to hold more meetings this week to finalize the procedure and then work on the agenda for the talks.