Taliban Reject US, Afghan Demands for Cease-Fire

An Afghan grand assembly, or loya jirga, ended Friday with the delegates in Kabul demanding peace with the Taliban, as President Ashraf Ghani promised to free 175 Taliban prisoners ahead of Ramadan, which begins in a few days. The Afghan Taliban, for their part, responded harshly to demands for a cease-fire, saying the United States should end the use of force instead. "@US4AfghanPeace should forget about the idea of us putting down our arms. Instead of such fantasies, he should drive the idea home (U.S.) about ending the use of force & incurring further human & financial losses for the decaying Kabul administration," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet. He appeared to be referring to Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, who started a sixth round of direct negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday as the jirga was taking place..............

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