Sunday, September 26, 2021

Foreign missions in Afghanistan call for Taliban ceasefire as peace talks collapse

Fifteen diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Afghanistan urged the Taliban to halt their military offensives just hours after the rival Afghan sides failed to agree on a ceasefire at a peace 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 said 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 today, referring to tomorrow’s 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.

Over recent Eid holidays, the Taliban have called short ceasefires, saying they wanted to let Afghans spend them in peace.

This time there has been no such announcement as the Taliban make swift territorial gains in near-unprecedented levels of fighting nationwide as US-led foreign forces complete their withdrawal after 20 years of fighting.

Today’s statement also condemned rights violations, such as efforts to shut schools and media outlets in areas recently captured by the Taliban. The militants have previously denied such actions.

President Ashraf Ghani today visited the provincial capital of Herat province in the west. The Taliban have captured all 17 of the province’s districts in recent days, barring the capital, Herat city, which is under siege.

The Taliban’s spokesman in Doha, Mohammed Naeem, denied media reports that the insurgent group had agreed to an Eid ceasefire in exchange for the release of its prisoners.

 

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