Afghanistan signs peace deal with Hezb-i-Islami leader

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has formalised a
peace treaty with Hezb-i-Islami, an armed group
led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,
a deal the
government hopes will lead to more agreements
with other fighters.

It is the first peace treaty the Afghan government
has completed since the war with the Taliban
began in 2001.

The accord with the largely dormant Hezb-i-Islami
has been welcomed by the international
community as a possible template for any future
peace deal with the Taliban, who have been
fighting to overthrow the Kabul government for 15
years.

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“This is a chance for the Taliban and other militant
groups to show what their decision is: to be with
people and join the respected caravan of peace,
like Hezb-i-Islami, or confront the people and
continue the bloodshed,” Ghani said.
The Afghan president also pledged to lobby the US
and the United Nations for the lifting of
international sanctions on Hekmatyar, who was
designated a “global terrorist” by the Washington
for his suspected ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Once international sanctions are lifted, Hekmatyar
is expected to return to Afghanistan after 20 years
in exile. He is believed to be in Pakistan.
The head of his delegation in Kabul, Amin Karim,
told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he
believes the sanctions could be lifted within weeks.

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