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Pompeo says 'time for peace' as Afghanistan announces ceasefire with Taliban

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled "An Update on American Diplomacy to Advance Our National Security Strategy" on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron Bernstein/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is ready to support and facilitate direct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, welcoming a Muslim Eid holiday ceasefire announced by President Ashraf Ghani.

“The United States welcomes the announcement by the Afghan government of a ceasefire conditioned on Taliban participation,” Pompeo said in a statement. “This plan responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan people for peace.”

He said Washington was ready to back direct negotiations between the government and militant movement. “There is no obstacles to talks. It is time for peace,” Pompeo said.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Peter Cooney