KABUL, Afghanistan

The Afghan government is ready to hold early elections to push efforts for peace, but President Ashraf Ghani will not be a candidate, according to a top official.

Hamdullah Mohib, the country’s national security adviser, told a Saturday news conference in the capital Kabul that a government delegation is in Doha, Qatar for talks with the Taliban and the US to chalk out an agenda for an upcoming meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.

“The Taliban had nothing to discuss [in Doha] and only insulted [Afghan officials] to show that they have not changed and want nothing but power,” he said, accusing the group of trying to seize power through terror.

Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar said last week that the government is willing to call early elections for the sake of the peace process.

At a news conference in India’s capital New Delhi, he said the elections could be held in the presence of international observers, stressing that the Taliban would have to accept the polls as a legitimate means for a transfer of power and political settlement.

Etilat-e-Roz, a local daily, reported that Ghani is likely to float the idea of early elections at the planned Istanbul peace conference, which is part of international efforts to accelerate the stalled peace process.

Fears of more violence in war-weary Afghanistan have grown since US President Joe Biden hinted at a possible delay in the withdrawal of American troops.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency earlier this week, Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem warned the US and Afghan government of nationwide attacks if all foreign forces do no leave the country by May 1, as agreed in a pact signed in Doha in February 2020.

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