Russia, US call on Afghans to discuss ceasefire after talks | Asian News

The conference is the first of three before the May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan.

The United States was joined by Russia, China and Pakistan on Thursday in calling on warring parts of Afghanistan to reach an immediate ceasefire, in talks that showed Washington’s determination to win the day. support of regional powers for its plans.

Just six weeks before the deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, Washington sent for the first time a senior official to participate in regional peace talks convened by Russia.

The Moscow talks were supposed to bring to life negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar’s capital Doha, blocked by government accusations that the group has done too little to end the violence.

“At this juncture, our four countries call on the parties to hold talks and reach a peace agreement that will end more than four decades of war in Afghanistan,” a joint statement said after the talks.

The statement called on the warring parties to curb violence and the Taliban not to declare offensives in the months to come. He also said the four countries were determined to mobilize political and economic support for Afghanistan once a peace deal was reached.

United States seeks regional support

The presence of the US special envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, was a sign of Washington’s growing effort to garner support from regional powers for its plans for the country.

President Joe Biden is soon to decide whether to maintain forces beyond the May 1 deadline to withdraw agreed with the Taliban last year under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. Khalilzad has tried to gain support for a proposal that includes an interim government.

Moscow, which fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, has hosted talks between Afghan parties and regional powers since 2017. Previously, Washington had largely kept its distance from the so-called “Moscow format”, focusing on its own direct talks with the Taliban and talks between the Afghan parties themselves.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to take a constructive stance and compromise, adding that international participants should help create the conditions necessary to reach an agreement.

“Afghan parties interested in national reconciliation can only achieve peace through negotiations and compromises,” Lavrov said. “It is important to sign an agreement that would serve the interests of all the main ethnic and political forces in the country and determine the vector of its development.”

He stressed the importance of quickly reaching a peace agreement “amid the deteriorating military-political situation” before the summer when an upsurge in fighting is likely.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani opposes an interim government, and a Taliban leader has said the group will not join him, although he supports the replacement of the current administration.

Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, wrote on Twitter after Thursday’s talks in Moscow that the state’s negotiating team was ready to discuss any matter with the Taliban.

“We called for an end to targeted assassinations and a comprehensive ceasefire to begin the next round of talks in a peaceful environment,” Abdullah wrote.

Deputy Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said in his speech in Moscow that the United States has not fully fulfilled its responsibilities for the agreement signed in February 2020. Among other things, the remaining prisoners have not released, he said.

The Moscow rally will be followed by a meeting of regional actors in Turkey next month and a summit that Khalilzad has asked the United Nations to organize.

America’s longest war

The United States has waged a war in Afghanistan for 20 years after the “terrorist attacks” of September 11, 2001, commanded by Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden of Afghanistan, making it their longest war.

But although the United States has spent nearly $ 1 trillion, al Qaeda still has a presence in Afghanistan, and a subsidiary of the ISIL Group (ISIS) has taken root in the east of the country.

Many Afghans fear that the withdrawal of US and NATO troops could lead to an upsurge in fighting between the country’s rival factions.

The Taliban now want more prisoners released from Afghan prisons and their leaders removed from the so-called UN blacklist.

The Taliban control about half the country, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned the group could make quick wins without US and NATO troops.

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