Moscow, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The Afghan government and the Taliban should reduce the level of violence in the country and begin talks in earnest on a political solution to a conflict that has raged for nearly two decades, Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan said following a peace conference here Thursday.
“We call on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to reduce the level of violence in the country and on the Taliban not to pursue a Spring offensive,” the four nations said in a joint statement.
“We urge participants in the intra-Afghan negotiations to engage immediately in discussions on fundamental issues to resolve the conflict, including the foundations of the future peaceful and stable Afghan state, the content of a political roadmap leading to an inclusive government, and the modalities of a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire,” the statement continued.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said that representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban would remain in Moscow at least one more day for bilateral talks.
The intra-Afghan discussions began last September in Doha, based on the Feb. 29, 2020, agreement between the Taliban and Washington, but have produced little progress amid continuing strife in the country.
The parties have yet to reach consensus on anything beyond the ground rules and procedures for the conversations.
Both the government and the Taliban have demonstrated a willingness to continue talks, Kabulov said.
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, wrote on Twitter after Thursday’s talks that the state negotiation team was ready to discuss any topic with the Taliban, subsequently telling reporters: “and the sooner, the better.”
Representing the Taliban in Moscow is the group’s co-founder and deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
The February 2020 accord calls for US and NATO troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1, but that deadline could slip in the absence of a political solution.
“Unfortunately, the process has not provided yet any positive results but we expect further progress down the line,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said as he opened the conference.
He said Moscow was worried that the Islamic State and other radical groups were trying to use the situation in Afghanistan to strengthen their position in the region.
Lavrov also called on the US and the Taliban “to comply with their obligations” under the February 2020 agreement. EFE fss-aj/ssk/dr