ISLAMABAD: Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan ((HIA), led by former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has decided to take part in the direct peace negotiations with the Afghan government, the party announced today.

Hizb-e-Islami, the second largest resistance group in Afghanistan, said the party has accepted invitation by President Ashraf Ghani to join the talks.

“As President Ashraf Ghani had invited Hizb-e- Islami to the peace talks , we are ready to participate in these negotiations. We want to tell our nation that Hizb-e-Islami desires peace, but the United States and circles linked to it want continuation of the war," the Hizb said in a statement sent to the media on Sunday.

Sources said the party has constituted a two-member team for the negotiation that in clued Qazi Hakim Hakim, head of the party’s central council and Dr Ghairat Baheer, head of the political affairs.

Last week the Taliban refused to join the negotiations unless the “occupation of Afghanistan is ended, black lists eliminated and innocent prisoners freed.”

The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) meeting in Kabul on Feb 23 had invited Taliban groups and Hizb-e-Islami to join direct talks with the Afghan government by the first week of March. Pakistan had accepted the offer to host the unprecedented meeting.

“Although the Americans have not yet ended their war in Afghanistan and oppose the peace process and that many officials of the Kabul government see the peace process as a threat to their powers and privileges, we are ready for talks,” the Pashto-language statement said.