April 29 (UPI) -- More than 3,200 delegates opened Afghanistan's grand council Monday as leaders throughout the country hope to find some consensus on peace negotiations with the Taliban.
The four-day summit, called the Grand Consultative Jirga on Peace, faced a boycott by some Afghan political parties, but Umer Daudzai, a special envoy for President Ashraf Ghani, said every district was represented. The Taliban had called on Afghans to boycott the summit as well.
Daudzai said Afghan refugees from Iran and Pakistan attended the summit along with 300 guests.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had asked Ghani to delay the event over fears it could slow negotiations. The Taliban, the Afghan government and U.S. negotiators have been locked in complex discussions for months over a possible withdrawal of U.S. forces, which have been in the Middle Eastern nation since late 2001.
Last month, the U.S. and the Taliban reached a draft agreement on counter-terrorism assurances and troop withdrawal but pushed the militant group to negotiate with the U.S.-backed Afghan government. The Taliban so far has resisted negotiating directly with Ghani's administration.
Ghani said Afghanistan has paid a price after nearly two decades of war to have a say in the process.
"It is a need to hear from around the country about the price of war," Ghani said Sunday. "Peace cannot be achieved in one day and the government has provided the ground for it. Peace belongs to the nation and it will be ensured, there, we all should surrender to the will and demand of the people."