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US, EU call on Taliban to stop attacks

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KABUL: Representatives from the United States, the European Union, NATO, Germany, France, Italy and Britain in a joint statement called on Taliban insurgents to stop their unannounced spring offensive.

Released on Saturday, the statement condemned Taliban attacks on civilians and the representatives of mentioned states called for immediate stop of targeted killings against leaders of civil rights, clerics, journalists, media workers, human right defenders and health workers.

The statement also called on the Afghan war parties to take measures for reduction of violence and provide a space for a political settlement.

It said the international community would continue support the Afghan security and defense forces to be able to defend domestic and foreign threats.

The United States and NATO began to withdraw their troops on May 1 that encouraged Taliban to intensify attacks on Afghan forces in several areas.

The statement announced support for the United Nations’ role in the Afghan peace process, emphasizing that the UN experiences would help Afghans in the peace efforts.

It urged that any peace deal should preserve rights of women, youth and minorities achieved in the past 20 years.

The statement said that a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan depends on the role and rights of women, urging that women should play meaningful role in the peace negotiations and all sectors of the society including government.

It supported “considered, responsible and secure” foreign withdrawal, warning that any Taliban attacks would have intensive reaction.

The statement urged that foreign withdrawal should not be used as an excuse by Taliban to delay peace process, saying that political negotiations should go ahead seriously.

Peace talks between Afghanistan and Taliban began last year in Qatar have been now stalled and the insurgents announced they would not attend a conference planned to be held in Turkey for the Afghan peace.

Meanwhile, the United States has warned to support the republic system in Afghanistan if Taliban reject peace demands.

“If Taliban do not choose peace and consensus, then we will stand by those Afghans who make efforts to preserve republic,” said the US Representative for Afghan Peace, Zalmay Khalilzad.

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