Ghani says Afghan government must be included in peace talks

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2018 file photo, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani delivers a speech during the United Nations Conference on Afghanistan at the UN Offices in Geneva, Switzerland. Ghani says the Taliban are welcome to set up a political office in the Kabul but that his government must be included in any peace talks. In a speech Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, he rejected the idea of an interim government, which has been embraced by the Taliban and some opposition figures, vowing that elections will he held as planned later this year. (Fabrice Coffrini/pool photo via AP, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says the Taliban are welcome to set up a political office in the capital but that his government must be included in any peace talks.

In a speech Monday, he rejected the idea of an interim government, which has been embraced by the Taliban and some opposition figures, vowing that elections will he held as planned later this year.

Ghani has appeared increasingly sidelined as the United States hold talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the 17-year war. A gathering last week in Moscow brought together the Taliban and a number of prominent Afghan figures but included no government representatives

Ghani says Afghanistan should hold a loya jirga, or a grand traditional gathering of Afghan political and tribal leaders, to plot a course to peace.

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