Afghan opposition leader Massoud says he is ready for talks with Taliban

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FILE PHOTO: Ahmad Massoud, son of the slain hero of the anti-Soviet resistance Ahmad Shah Massoud, waves as he arrives to attend a new political movement in Bazarak

(Reuters) - The leader of the Afghan opposition group resisting Taliban forces in the Panjshir valley north of Kabul said on Sunday he welcomed proposals from religious scholars for a negotiated settlement to end the fighting.

Ahmad Massoud, head of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), made the announcement on the group's Facebook page. Earlier, Taliban forces said they had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir after securing the surrounding districts.

"The NRF in principle agree to solve the current problems and put an immediate end to the fighting and continue negotiations," Massoud said in the Facebook post.

"To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab," he said, referring to a district in the neighbouring province of Baghlan.

Earlier, Afghan media outlets reported that an Ulema council of religious scholars had called on the Taliban to accept a negotiated settlement to end the fighting in Panjshir.

(Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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