Afghan former premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has announced a ceasefire with the government of President Hamid Karzai, a statement carrying Hekmatyar"s signature said on Thursday.
Hekmatyar is believed to be hiding in eastern Afghanistan or Pakistan while leading his Hizb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) faction. A one-time anti-Soviet fighter, he has been declared a wanted terrorist by the United States.
The statement in Pashto language, which was aired by a local TV station andcirculated among officials, calls on Afghanistan"s Taliban and other opponents of Karzai to end fighting.
"Hezb-e-Islami members have refrained from killing brothers (fellow Afghans) and the destruction of the country and have resumed political activities," the statement read.
The group "has come to the conclusion that with fighting one can neither build a government nor a country. We have experienced this in the past 20 years of war," it said.
However, it called on the "Americans and British" -- a reference to a 37-member NATO force and separate US-led coalition -- to withdraw from Afghanistan as the Soviets did after their 1979-1989 occupation of the country.
"This is for us to start working together for establishing an Islamic government through political struggles," it said.
The authenticity of the statement read over the phone to AFP by a national security council official could not be independently confirmed.
Officials would not comment specifically on the matter.
But presidential spokesman Siamak Hirawi said: "The government welcomes the putting down of arms and weapons by anyone who does it for the sake of peace, reconstruction and to avoid more destruction of the country."
Hekmatyar"s spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The leader in the 1980s received US aid given to factions that resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
He was involved in the subsequent civil war that decimated Afghanistan and briefly served as prime minister.
Hezb-e-Islami "invites the opposition to the government to come and sit around the negotiating table and solve the problems of Afghanistan with peace," the statement said.
The leader also condemned attacks and said the killing of Afghan civilians, including religious scholars and teachers, must stop.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2007, 19:18