US calls on Taliban to participate in direct peace talks

Washington: The US has asked Taliban to participate in the direct peace talks with the Afghanistan Government as it continues to lend its support to the proposed peace agreement with the Hezb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

“We continue to join President Ghani in calling on the Taliban to participate in direct peace talks. They have a choice now, and we hope they make the right now,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby yesterday said.

Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson is attending the quadrilateral meeting on peace talks in Islamabad.

“I’m not going to get ahead of outcomes here. But let me just stress again that we continue to support the Afghan Government’s efforts to end the conflict though a peace and reconciliation process, a process that we have said time and time again must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” he said while replying to a question.

The US welcomes the proposed peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami of Hekmatyar.

“Hekmatyar is still a designated individual, but we welcome steps by the Afghan Government to engage in talks with the HIG with respect to trying to end the violence,” he said.

“As I understand it, those discussions are ongoing. I’m not aware of any final resolution here,… but we welcome the efforts by President Ghani and the Afghan Government to deal with them through dialogue. And obviously we hope that it can lead to a better, less violent outcome for the Afghan people,” Kirby said.

The US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China yesterday held a fresh round of talks to chalk out a roadmap to revive peace talks with the Afghan Taliban and end the 15-year-long insurgency in the war-torn country.

The Quadrilateral Coordination Group said direct peace talks were the only option to end the violence in Afghanistan.