KABUL -- President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday (July 28) that "direct negotiations with the Taliban" would start within one week, pending a comprehensive ceasefire during the upcoming Eid ul Adha holiday.
"To demonstrate the government's commitment to peace, the Islamic Republic will soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners," Ghani told senior officials at the Presidential Palace (ARG).
"With this action, we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week's time," he said, speaking in English.
"We call on the Taliban to join us at the negotiating table and to concluding promptly there a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire," Ghani said, according to the official ARG Twitter account. "Commitment to a ceasefire during the coming Eid will be an indication of things to come."
The same day, the Taliban issued a statement in Dari saying they ordered their fighters to observe a three-day ceasefire during Eid ul Adha, which begins Friday (July 31).
"All the mujahedeen [Taliban fighters]... are ordered to refrain from carrying out any operation against the enemy during the three days and nights of Eid ul Adha," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.
"Of course, if there is any attack on you from the other side, respond strongly," the statement said.
The Taliban banned its members from entering areas under Afghan government control and vice versa, presumably to prevent commingling and celebration among Taliban fighters, civilians and security forces, as was seen during the Eid ul Fitr ceasefire in June 2018.
Having had a taste of normal life, many fighters refused to return to the battlefield after that ceasefire and the militants lost credibility among the Afghan people.