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Afghan President Wants 'Positive Peace' With Taliban, Transition To 'Elected Successor'

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, alongside his wife, Rula Ghani, speaks to the media in January 2019 in Kabul.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that his goal is to transition power to an "elected successor," and that he seeks a "positive peace" with the Taliban.

Speaking alongside first lady Rula Ghani in an interview with CNN on January 8, the Afghan president addressed the start of the second round of peace talks between the government and the Taliban.

He acknowledged that the process aimed at ending nearly two decades of war has been slow, and laid out some of the factors required for the negotiations that resume in Qatar on January 9 to be successful.

"Can we agree on the goal that the international community is agreed with us; namely, a sovereign, democratic, united Afghanistan at peace with itself and the region?" he said. "If that goal becomes accepted, then we can move forward. But if the objective of the Taliban is to dominate and give us the peace of the grave, then that will have very negative consequences."

Ghani earlier this week ruled out suggestions that the establishment of an interim government could aid the formation of a government in keeping with a future peace deal.

"My basic goal is to be able to hand power, through the will of the people, to my elected successor," Ghani said in the January 8 interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "This is crucial to enable us to both honor the sacrifice of our civilians, our activists, and others."

"One thing needs to be clear: Afghan society is not willing to go back and we're not a type of society that the Taliban-type approach of the past can be imposed on us," he added. "We want a positive peace where all of us together overcome our past, embrace each other and together rebuild an Afghanistan that can be what I call a roundabout."

After a 20-day break, the Afghan negotiating team returned to the Qatari capital, Doha, this week for a second round of peace talks that began in September.

The first session began on January 9, according to a spokesman for the Afghan National Reconciliation Council.

A statement issued by the Taliban's political office in Doha said the groups appointed by the negotiating teams "for the unification and arrangement of the agenda" had met "in a good environment."

The Taliban statement said those at the talks agreed to continue the meetings in the future and to continue to talk about the agenda of the peace process.

With reporting by Tolo News, CNN, and AFP
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