HomeAnalysisU.S. urges action toward lasting peace in Afghanistan

U.S. urges action toward lasting peace in Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has called for additional steps by the Taliban and the Government of Afghanistan toward lasting peace in the country.

The call followed Saturday’s announcement of a three-day ceasefire by the Taliban in observance of the Eid-el-Fitr festival and the government’s pledge to reciprocate.

In a statement on Sunday, Pompeo welcomed the ceasefire announcement, which he said β€œwe worked hard to achieve”.

β€œI hope that this respite from conflict gives Afghan people the space and security they deserve to celebrate Eid,” he said.

He urged both parties to use the opportunity to take β€œadditional steps toward a peaceful future for their country”.

The Taliban’s announcement came through its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, who directed its fighters to halt attacks against government forces.

β€œDo not carry out any offensive operations against the enemy anywhere.

β€œIf any action is taken against you by the enemy, defend yourself,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement welcoming the announcement, with a promise of compliance by security and defence forces.

Ghani later announced that the government would β€œtake another step forward” as a demonstration of its commitment to peace.

β€œI announce that the release of the Taliban prisoners will be accelerated and serious measures will be taken,” he said in a televised address.

In February, the U.S. reached a deal with the Taliban agreeing prisoner exchange with the Afghan authorities, but implementation has been stalled.

While the militant group accuses the government of trying to delay the release, officials argue that its demands are unreasonable.

Pompeo said the U.S. remained committed to the implementation of the U.S.-Taliban agreement and the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration.

β€œI expect the Taliban to adhere to their commitment not to allow released prisoners to return to the battlefield.

β€œFinally, I expect both leaders of the Afghan government and the Taliban not to escalate violence after Eid.

β€œThis violence is counterproductive, deepens grievances, and prolongs the suffering of the Afghan people.

β€œPeace is the consistent and overwhelming desire of the Afghan people. We hope this ceasefire can build trust.

β€œNext, all sides should work together to build on the momentum of this historic Eid ceasefire to move with urgency to intra-Afghan negotiations,” he said.

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