ISLAMABAD: The extended “Troika” — the US, China, Russia and Pakistan — on Friday urged the Kabul government and its negotiators to “engage openly” with their Taliban counterparts for a peaceful settlement to end the decades-long war.
The delegations met with representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar to discuss ways to support intra-Afghan negotiations and help the parties reach a negotiated settlement and a permanent cease-fire as peace negotiations that began last year in September have so far seen no breakthrough.
The extended Troika meeting has been seen as attempt to convince the Taliban to be at the Istanbul Conference that is expected to be held after Eid Al-Fitr. The Taliban refused to participate in the meeting unless all foreign forces left Afghanistan in accordance with the group’s deal with Washington that in February last year set May 1 as the deadline for US troops to leave Afghan soil.
“We urge the Government of the Islamic Republic and the High Council for National Reconciliation to engage openly with their Taliban counterparts regarding a negotiated settlement. We do not support the establishment in Afghanistan of any government imposed by force.” the extended Troika representatives said in a joint statement after the Doha meeting.
They also called on the Taliban not to “pursue a spring offensive” as a rise in violence has been feared with US President Joe Biden’s recent decision that the US withdrawal would overshoot the May 1 deadline agreed by the previous US administration.
As the deadline passed on Saturday, around 2,000 US troops still remain in Afghanistan, although their commander, US Army Gen. Scott Miller earlier this week said an orderly withdrawal and the handing over of military bases and equipment to Afghan forces had begun.
“We reiterate our 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 extended Troika joint statement said, adding that it also expected the Taliban to fulfill their commitment to prevent “terrorist groups and individuals from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of any other country.”
Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan, who attended the extended Troika meeting, told Arab News on Friday that it sought to “explore a way forward in the Afghan peace process.”
“Pakistan believes there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict,” he said. “A peaceful resolution of all hostilities requires serious negotiations among all Afghan stakeholders for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan.”