US willing to facilitate talks between Kabul and Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Washington seems optimistic and ready to facilitate talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban following the successful three-day ceasefire.

On June 20, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells told members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee that Washington is willing to support direct talks with the insurgent group.

“The United States has made clear that we are prepared to support, facilitate and participate in direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. We will support all Afghan stakeholders as we work to reach a mutually agreed negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and ensures that Afghanistan is never again used as a safe haven for terrorist groups,” Tolo News quoted Wells as saying.

“After more than 16 years of war, we see a real opportunity this year to start an Afghan peace process that could lead to a double settlement of the conflict,” she added.

She urged the Taliban to cut ties with al-Qaeda, adding that they should endorse the Afghan constitution.

A negotiating group has also been formed in Washington which will work with the US embassy in Kabul.

NATO forces in Afghanistan had said that the military pressure on the Taliban is important to establish peace in the region.

After the truce that lasted for the duration of Eid-ul-Fitr, the Taliban immediately took up arms again.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on June 17 announced a 10-day extension on government’s ceasefire. The Taliban, however, has not yet responded and instead continues to carry out attacks across the country.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on June 16 announced an extension of the government’s week-long ceasefire with the Taliban which was otherwise due to end on June 19, urging the Taliban to extend their three-day ceasefire.

This came in the backdrop of an initial truce which was observed by both sides over the Eid festival period.

The Taliban on June 9 announced a three-day ceasefire over the Eid holiday, two days after Ghani announced the ceasefire from the 27th of Ramzan (June 12) to the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr (June 19).

It is the first time the Taliban has agreed to a ceasefire for Eid since the US invasion in 2001. (ANI)