Afghan govt, Taliban agree to expedite peace talks

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Kabul

The Afghan government and the Taliban on Friday decided to try and expedite the peace talks at a meeting in Moscow that came after an international conference there on the peace process, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted an Afghan official as saying.

The United States, Russia, China and Pakistan called on Afghanistan’s warring sides to reach an immediate ceasefire at the conference, held in Russia just six weeks before a deadline agreed last year to withdraw US troops.

“We expressed our readiness to accelerate the (peace) process,” Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, told RIA news agency. “They (the Taliban) did as well.

”Abdullah said the sides had not discussed any specific issues when they met in Moscow on Friday.

Moscow hosted the international conference on Afghanistan on Thursday, at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence, and on the Taliban not to launch any offensives in the spring and summer.

Meanwhile, Afghan President’s Special Envoy for Pakistan Affairs Mohammed Umer Daudzai has said that Kabul wants Islamabad to play the same role in facilitating an agreement between the government of Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban as it did in the Doha pact which was possible due to Pakistan’s cooperation.

“The agreement between the Taliban and the US, there was serious Pakistan cooperation in it and the US thanked Pakistan.

Now we, as their brothers and sisters, expect Pakistan to do the same between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban,” he said.

About the role of government in Islamabad, Daudzai said that Afghanistan has its expectations from Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban, to consistently come to a negotiation table and also to follow the negotiation on a result base.

“The other thing we expect [from Pakistan] is to again use influence over Taliban to agree to a ceasefire,” the Afghan envoy said.

This peace effort, he said, is different from the earlier efforts as the animosity between the Taliban and the US are over.

“The Taliban used to claim that Afghanistan is occupied by the US and as long as it continues we will fight.

Now they have signed an agreement in February last year in Doha which means their problem is over, they have overcome their problem but now they have continued to fight against the Afghanistan government forces.”

When asked if both countries can deal with challenges on their own, he said that since 2018, a framework has been developed, specifying areas of cooperation. “The first one is state-to-state friendship and cooperation.—Agencies

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