ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: The United States has called on Afghanistan’s warring sides to start intra-Afghan negotiations as soon as possible without further delay to deter those who seek to disrupt the peace process.”
US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad issued the call in response to Friday’s attempt on the life of a prominent female member of the Afghan national team designated to negotiate peace with the Taliban insurgency. “We condemn the attempt on Fawzia Koofi a cowardly and criminal act by those who seek to delay and disrupt the Afghan Peace Process,” Khalilzad said in a series of tweets.
Khalilzad, who negotiated and signed the pact with the Taliban, has since repeatedly urged Afghan rivals to promptly launch the long-hoped-for direct talks, warning “spoilers”, including Islamic State militants, could try to disrupt the peace effort.
But the peace talks are linked to the completion of a controversy-marred prisoner swap between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) after a meeting with Qatar-based Taliban leaders on Saturday indicated that peace talks may take place this week.
“UNAMA officials met the Taliban Political Commission in Doha today, expressing support for direct intra-Afghan talks starting this week. Reduced violence is required to improve atmosphere for negotiations,” said the mission in a post-meeting tweet.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has urged all stakeholders to ensure resolution of the residual issues to commence intra-Afghan negotiations without any delay. In a tweet Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the importance of seizing this historic opportunity cannot not be stressed enough.