Afghanistan's grand council ends with call for peace talks

Afghanistan's grand council ends with call for peace talks
Delegates attend the last day of the Afghan Loya Jirga meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, May 3, 2019. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's grand council ends with a call for peace talks, urges both sides to hammer out a cease fire and protect rights gained in the last 17 years. Ghani offers cease fire, says he will free 175 Taliban prisoners ahead of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan grand council convened by President Ashraf Ghani has ended with a resounding call for peace with the Taliban.

The council — known as Loya Jirga — had brought together more than 3,200 participants, politicians, tribal elders, many prominent figures and others to hammer out a shared strategy for future negotiations.

Ghani said at the closing ceremony on Friday that the message of the five-day gathering in Kabul is clear: “Afghans want peace.”

He offered a cease-fire but stressed that it will not be unilateral.

He also promised to free 175 Taliban prisoners ahead of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month marked by daily fasting from dawn to sunset that starts next week.

Ghani added: “I want to say to the Taliban that the choice is now in your hands.”