WORLD / MID-EAST
Calls to end Taliban offensive
Foreign missions say fighting at odds with Doha talks
Published: Jul 20, 2021 06:58 PM
Security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle which was firing rockets in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday. At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid-a-Adha.  Photo: VCG

Security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle which was firing rockets in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday. At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid-a-Adha. Photo: VCG



 More than a dozen diplomatic missions in Afghanistan on Monday called for "an urgent end" to the Taliban's ruthless military offensive, saying it was at odds with claims they want to secure a political deal to end the conflict.

The statement - signed by the US, the European Union, and more than a dozen other foreign missions in Kabul - follows another round of inconclusive talks in Doha over the weekend between the Afghan government and the Taliban that many hoped would kickstart the ailing peace process.

"The Taliban's offensive is in direct contradiction to their claim to support a negotiated settlement," the statement read.

"It has resulted in loss of innocent Afghan lives, including through continued targeted killings, displacement of the civilian population, looting and burning of buildings, destruction of vital infrastructure, and damage to communication networks."

For months, the two sides have been meeting on and off in the Qatari capital but have achieved little, with talks appearing to have lost momentum as the militants made battlefield gains.

A joint statement late Sunday said they had agreed on the need to reach a "just solution," and to meet again next week.

"We also agreed that there should be no pause in the negotiations," Abdullah Abdullah, who oversees the Afghan government's delegation, told AFP on Monday. He noted, however, that neither side was currently pursuing a joint cease-fire during the talks, despite urgent calls from Afghan civil society and the international community to end the fighting.

The US special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who met with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Monday, welcomed the latest round of talks but tweeted that "more must be done, urgently." 

Following the weekend summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his administration hoped to start talks with the Taliban over the group's refusal to let Ankara run the Kabul airport after US troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

"We will see what kind of talks we will have with the Taliban and see where these talks take us," Erdogan said Monday.  


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