Blinken proposes plan to accelerate the peace process in Afghanistan | Conflict News

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has written to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani suggesting ways to speed up the stalled peace process from Afghanistan to Afghanistan and achieve a lasting ceasefire.

In the letter outlining the strategy of US President Joe Biden’s administration, Blinken offered to convene a United Nations-facilitated conference with foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States “to discuss a unified approach to sustaining peace. in Afghanistan ”.

The letter, which was published On Sunday by TOLOnews, an Afghan media outlet, also said that US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had been asked to share with Ghani and Taliban leaders “written proposals to speed up talks on a negotiated settlement and a ceasefire.” fire”.

Blinken said the documents will enable the government in Kabul and the Taliban to move forward towards developing principles that will guide the country’s constitutional and governing arrangements, develop a roadmap to a new inclusive government, and develop the conditions for a permanent cease-fire.

In addition, the United States will ask Turkey to host a high-level meeting of the two sides in the coming weeks to finalize a peace deal, the letter said.

Blinken added that a revised proposal for a 90-day reduction in violence had also been prepared, “intended to prevent a spring Taliban offensive” and “to support a political settlement between the parties.”

The senior US diplomat concluded his letter by stating that Washington had not ruled out any options regarding Afghanistan, including the complete withdrawal of its forces by May 1.

“Even with continued US financial assistance to your forces after a US military withdrawal, I fear the security situation is worsening and the Taliban may achieve rapid territorial gains,” Blinken said.

“I am telling you this clearly so that you understand the urgency of my tone regarding the collective work described in this letter.

Reporting from UN headquarters in New York, Al Jazeera diplomatic editor James Bays said Blinken ended the letter with a “scary message.”

“In other words, he is telling the Afghan government that we are going to set up an expedited process and you had better get on board or else the US forces could leave and you could be run over by the Taliban,” Bays said. .

Violence and targeted killings have increased since the Afghan government began US-backed negotiations with the Taliban last September, and Western security officials say the armed group, which already owns large swathes of rural areas, began to gain ground around cities.

On Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said his government was ready to discuss the possibility of holding new elections in order to advance peace talks with the Taliban. [File: Afghan Presidential Palace/ Handout via Reuters]

“The key is the vote of the Afghan people”

The administration of US President Joe Biden has begun a review of its strategy for Afghanistan, including a deal struck with the Taliban in early 2020 in Qatar’s capital, Doha, which paved the way for talks between the armed group and the Afghan government.

On Saturday, Ghani said his government was ready to discuss the possibility of holding new elections in a bid to advance peace talks with the Taliban.

“The transfer of power through elections is a non-negotiable principle for us,” Ghani said at the opening of the parliamentary session in Kabul.

“We are ready to discuss the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections under the auspices of the international community. We can also talk about the date of the elections and come to a conclusion. “

Ghani met with Khalilzad in Kabul last week to discuss ways to give momentum to the stalled peace talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar. After his talks in Kabul, Khalilzad traveled to Doha.

Afghan officials and Western diplomats said during his visit to Kabul, Khalilzad pitched the idea of ​​establishing an interim government after bringing together Afghan and Taliban leaders for a multilateral conference outside the country.

But Ghani said the only way to form a government should be through elections.

“My advice to those who go to such and such a door to gain power is that political power in Afghanistan has a door, and the key is the vote of the Afghan people,” he said.

“Any institution can write a fantasy on a piece of paper and suggest a solution for Afghanistan. These articles were written in the past and will be written in the future. Our guarantee is our constitution.

Taliban spokesman Naeem Wardak confirmed on Saturday a meeting between the Khalilzad armed group and General Scott Miller, the head of the US forces and the NATO-led non-combat Resolute Support mission.

“Both sides expressed their commitment to the Doha agreement and discussed its full implementation. Likewise, the current situation in Afghanistan and the speed and efficiency of intra-Afghan negotiations were discussed, ”Wardak said.

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