KABUL (Dispatches) – Fifteen diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Afghanistan urged the Taliban on Monday to halt their military offensives just hours after the rival Afghan sides failed to agree on a ceasefire at a meeting in Doha.
A delegation of Afghan leaders met the Taliban’s political leadership in the Qatari capital over the weekend but the Taliban, in a statement late on Sunday, made no mention of a halt to Afghanistan’s escalating violence.
“This Eid al-Adha, the Taliban should lay down their weapons for good and show the world their commitment to the peace process,” the 15 missions and the NATO representative said, referring to Tuesday’s Muslim holiday in Afghanistan.
The statement was supported by Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Union delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the United States and NATO’s senior civilian representative.
The development followed a message released late Sunday by Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, calling on Kabul to stop relying on “foreigners” to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan and insisting that the militants favor “a political settlement” by the Afghan parties.
Head of Kabul’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah also issued a statement on Monday, merely saying Afghan leaders and the Taliban discussed ways to reach a political settlement to end the conflict.
“We agreed to continue the talks, seek a political settlement to the current crisis, avoid civilian casualties, facilitate humanitarian assistance & medical supplies to tackle Covid-19 pandemic,” Abdullah added in a Twitter post.
The spokeswoman for Kabul’s negotiating team, Najia Anwari, said, “The high-level delegation is here to talk to both sides, guide them and support the (government) negotiating team in terms of speeding up the talks and have progress.”
“We expect that it (will) speed the talks and... in a short time, both sides will reach a result and we will witness a durable and dignified peace in Afghanistan,” she added.