EU Council Urges Intra-Afghan Talks

The Council recommends that direct negotiations between Afghans begin as soon as possible.

The Council of the European Union on Monday discussed the situation in Afghanistan with a special focus on the ongoing efforts for peace and how the bloc can best contribute in the process for a political settlement in the country, the Council said in a statement.

The Council reaffirmed its political commitment and long-term support to the people of Afghanistan on their path towards peace, security and prosperity and asked all parties in the conflict, including the Afghan government the Taliban and to engage in intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible.

“The EU encourages the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to intensify their efforts towards a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the conflict” said the statement.

The Council says that the EU stands ready to support the following aspects of the process:

To help make the peace process inclusive;

To assist with reforms, including security sector reform;

To act as a guarantor of a peace process, if requested by the parties;

To assist with reintegration of fighters and their families and

To promote regional trade and connectivity.
The Council states that it considers important that a peace agreement should be negotiated in an inclusive way that is approved by the Afghan government and that it:
Entails the renunciation of violence;

Counters any threat of transnational terrorist organizations acting from Afghan territory;

Adheres to the rule of law and respect for the universal human rights of all Afghans, in particular as regards women, children, and persons belonging to minorities;

Ensures the continuity of the Afghan State, its institutions, and the constitutional order;

Allows for possibilities to ensure accountability, including through transitional justice, and to address the grievances of the victims of the conflict in Afghanistan.
In addition, the Council reiterated the European Union’s emphasize on the importance of the meaningful participation of women in all peace initiatives, including formal and informal peace negotiations.

The council also urged upon the relevant institutions in the country to make sure that the upcoming presidential elections are held in a free, fair and credible manner.

“The EU also reiterates the importance of holding inclusive, credible and transparent presidential, provincial council and district council elections in 2019, which are an essential element for a strengthened democracy and stability in Afghanistan,” said the council.

This comes amid creative diplomacy by the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad who after assuming the office last September has traveled to the region five times where he conducted marathon discussions with the Taliban leaders in Doha Qatar and a wider segment of the Afghan politicians in Afghanistan.

However, the Afghan political leadership has constantly urged upon the group to denounce violence, endorse Afghan Constitution and engage in direct talks with the government, but the Taliban has been saying that the group has refused to talk to the Afghan government.

The Afghan government which has cautiously welcomed Khalilzad’s efforts for a political settlement in the country is now preparing to convene a Loya Jirga on Peace on April 29 and seeks to send a delegation to Doha, Qatar, where Afghan politicians will meet the Taliban on April 14.

In order to achieve a breakthrough in the talks, the Afghan government has proposed two lists of 22 individuals for peace negotiations with the Taliban and a list of 37 people as members of the Council for Reconciliation.

The lists were discussed in the first meeting of the Reconciliation Council at the Presidential Palace on Sunday.

According to the sources, the government has agreed for Afghans inside and outside the government participate in the upcoming meeting with the Taliban in Doha.

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