The United States was joined by Russia, China and Pakistan on Thursday in calling on Afghanistan’s warring sides to reach an immediate ceasefire, at talks that showed Washington’s determination to win backing from regional powers for its plans.
Just six weeks before a deadline for the United States to pull out troops that have been in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, Washington sent a senior official for the first time to participate in regional peace talks convened by Russia.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
The Moscow talks were meant to breathe life into negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar’s capital Doha, stalled over government accusations that the insurgents have done too little to halt violence.
“At this turning point, our four countries call on the sides to hold talks and reach a peace agreement that will end more than four decades of war in Afghanistan,” a joint statement said after Thursday’s talks.
The statement called on the warring sides to curb violence and on the Taliban not to declare offensives in the spring and summer. It also said the four countries were committed to mobilizing political and economic support for Afghanistan once a peace settlement had been reached.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s presence was a sign of Washington’s increasing effort to attract support among regional powers for its plans for Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden must soon decide whether to keep forces on past a May 1 deadline to withdraw, agreed with the Taliban last year under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. Khalilzad has been trying to drum up backing for a proposal that includes an interim government.
Moscow, which fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, has hosted talks among Afghan sides and regional powers since 2017.
Previously, Washington had largely kept its distance from the so-called “Moscow Format,” focusing on its own direct talks with the Taliban and talks between the Afghan parties themselves.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani opposes an interim government, and a Taliban leader has said the group would not join it, although it supports replacing the current administration.
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, wrote on Twitter after Thursday’s Moscow talks that the state negotiation team was ready to discuss any topic with the Taliban.
“We called for an end to targeted killings and a comprehensive ceasefire to begin the next rounds of the talks in a peaceful environment,” Abdullah wrote.
The Moscow gathering will be followed by a meeting of regional players in Turkey next month and a summit that Khalilzad has asked the United Nations to organize.
Biden says it will be ‘tough’ to meet May 1 deadline for Afghanistan troop withdrawal
Two killed after gunmen ambush university bus in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Interior Minister warns US against hasty retreat
Biden says it will be ‘tough’ to meet May 1 deadline for Afghanistan troop withdrawalUS President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday that it will be “tough” for him to meet a May 1 deadline to withdraw the last ... World News
Two killed after gunmen ambush university bus in AfghanistanGunmen ambushed a bus carrying university staff in northeastern Afghanistan on Tuesday killing the driver and a student, officials said, as attacks on ... World News
Afghanistan’s Interior Minister warns US against hasty retreatAfghanistan’s Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi said Saturday that Afghan security forces can hold their ground even if US troops withdraw, ... Middle East
Car bomb kills at least 7, injures 53 in Afghanistan's Herat provinceReports
Top US diplomat for Afghanistan meets Pakistan army chief for Taliban peace talksThe US special envoy for Afghanistan and the commander of NATO forces there met Pakistan’s army chief on Monday to discuss the war-torn nation’s peace ... World News
US Secretary of State Blinken calls for a 90-day reduction in violence in AfghanistanUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for a 90-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan and a new United Nations-led peace effort as he warned ... World News
Former women's police head killed by gunmen in AfghanistanThe former head of women police in a southern Afghanistan province was seriously wounded and her husband — also a police officer — was killed Sunday ... World News