Afghanistan: UN envoy calls on Taliban to accept Ghani’s peace talks offer

KABUL (TCA) — The United Nations envoy to Afghanistan has urged the Taliban to accept an offer by Afghanistan’s government of direct peace negotiations that could lead to an end to more than 16 years of war, RFE/RL reported.

“The offer of negotiation is on the table,” Tadamichi Yamamoto on March 8 told a Security Council meeting that renewed the mandate of the UN political mission in the war-torn country for another year.

“It is now incumbent upon the Taliban to come forward with an offer of their own, and start direct talks with the government to put an end to the suffering of the Afghan people,” said Yamamoto, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“Making peace and reaching out to opponents requires resolve, courage and above all national unity,” Yamamoto said, adding that “political leaders need to put the national interest above a partisan agenda.”

On February 28, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered to allow the Taliban to establish itself as a political party and said he would work to remove sanctions on the militant group, among other incentives, if it joined the government in peace negotiations.

In return, the militants would have to recognize the Kabul government and respect the rule of law.

But the Taliban has continued to reject direct peace talks with the Afghan government and insisted it will only negotiate with the United States, which it calls a “foreign occupying force.” The Taliban also says that NATO forces must withdraw before negotiations can begin.

The United States has refused to withdraw troops as demanded by the Taliban and has insisted that Kabul must play a lead role in peace negotiations.

Earlier this week, Washington called on the Taliban to give “serious” consideration to Ghani’s offer.

“This is not a surrender that’s being offered to the Taliban, but a dignified process for reaching a political framework,” said Alice Wells, a U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of South and Central Asian affairs.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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