Afghanistan Signs Seal With Militant Hekmatyar

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The Afghan government has signed a peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami, the country’s second largest militant group.

Representatives of the movement and Afghan officials signed the accord in a ceremony shown live on TV.

The deal grants impunity to the group’s leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Islamist warlord accused of numerous atrocities.

He was not present at the signing, which is intended to pave the way for him to return from hiding to Kabul.

Under the terms of the deal Mr Hekmatyar agrees to accept the constitution and abandon violence. He must still sign the accord with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for it to come into force.

The two sides have still to agree a date and venue for that to happen.

Hezb-e-Islami has played a minor role in the Taliban-led insurgency in recent years and so the deal is not expected to improve security in the country.

But correspondents say it is symbolic and could lead to other peace deals.

Mr Hekmatyar was briefly prime minister of Afghanistan in the early 1990s and is still designated a terrorist by the US.

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