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Afghanistan to convene ‘Grand Assembly’ to discuss peace deal with Taliban

Afghanistan will convene on Monday a rare ‘loya jirga’ – a meeting for delegates from across the country to discuss US efforts to forge a peace deal with the Taliban. More than 2,000 people have been invited to gather amid tight security for four days of debate under a large tent in Kabul, AFP reported. A loya jirga, or ‘grand assembly’ in Pashto, is traditionally comprised of Afghan elders. The most recent jirga was held in 2013, when a security agreement was endorsed that allowed US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond their planned withdrawal in 2014. The US and Taliban militants have already held several rounds of talks to discuss a possible troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in exchange for a ceasefire and various pledges from the Taliban. The talks have thus far cut out the government of President Ashraf Ghani, whom the Taliban views as a US stooge.