07/19/2007, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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Main Taliban ally declares an end to armed struggle

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar announces he will continue his fight at a political level; his goal is to set up an Islamic system that would ensure peace.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Afghan leader and Taliban and al-Qaeda ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar declared an end to armed struggle against Afghanistan's government in a statement aired on TV.

“Members of Hezb-i-Islami have stopped and refrained from brother killing and from the destruction of the country and assumed political activity because it believes the Americans, like the British and Russians, will pull out (of Afghanistan),” said the statement.

Hekmatyar, who is wanted by the Afghan government and US authorities, is a veteran fighter who once led the biggest mujahideen faction against the 1979-89 Soviet occupation. He does however have a history of changing sides and shifting alliances.

“Now we have to unite for creating an Islamic system and start our political efforts so that we can provide a tranquil life and everlasting peace for our Muslim countrymen," the statement said.

A Kabul-based Western diplomat said any peace move would be welcome, but reconciliation would be hard for Hekmatyar. “It would be very hard for him to reconcile personally because of his links with terrorism,” the diplomat said.

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