Saudi-based Islamic organisation hosts Afghan conference
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation is hosting a two-day conference to encourage peace talks to end Afghanistan's nearly 17-year war. The OIC, a 57-nation organization based in Jiddah, began the summit on Tuesday. The gathering includes senior religious scholars who will "discuss ways of contributing to the efforts of achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan," the organization said. Shah Hussain Murtazavi, a deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, welcomed the conference. The Taliban, meanwhile, criticized the event and said they expect it will take the side of the American "invaders." A statement from the insurgent group pledged to continue jihad, or holy war, against U.S. and other foreign troops in Afghanistan, saying that the fight "is a must." Ghani has pushed for peace talks with the Taliban. The insurgents say they want to negotiate directly with the U.S., which invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple Kabul's Taliban government that harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.