Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday said he did not want foreign nations to interfere in the country's affairs, as the United States and the Taliban appear near to closing a peace deal without the government's input.
Ghani made the comments during the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha, while US and Taliban negotiators continue to work towards the peace deal in the Gulf nation of Qatar, where the insurgents have a political office.
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In a televised speech, Ghani referenced the upcoming presidential elections and said that "without a legitimate and strong government that comes through an election, Afghans won't be able to achieve a dignified peace."
"Our future cannot be decided outside, whether in the capital cities of our friends, nemeses or neighbors. The fate of Afghanistan will be decided here in this homeland," Ghani said. "We don't want anyone to intervene in our affairs."
Ghani emphasied that peace was only possible "between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement."
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Hope for deal before election
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is hoping to reach a peace deal by September 1, weeks before Afghanistan's presidential election.
The Taliban has consistently refused to take part in direct talks with the government, which they have labeled a "puppet."
The US and the Taliban are expected to agree on the withdrawal of some 20,000 US and NATO troops in return for Taliban assurances that Afghanistan would not be a base for other extremist groups.
Read more: Were Afghan peace talks in Qatar a success?
Further details of the deal are scarce, but Khalilzad and the lead Taliban negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, have been traveling in recent days to speak to several countries involved in the process on the latest developments.
A peace deal would be followed by intra-Afghan talks, but it is not yet clear whether the Taliban would agree to talk to Kabul government members in their official capacity or only as ordinary Afghans, as they have done in the past.
The Taliban control about half of Afghanistan and are currently at their strongest since the US-led invasion toppled their five-year-old government in 2001.
law/amp (AP, dpa)
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