KABUL: As Afghanistan is ushering in historic peace talks with the Taliban, the world leaders have welcomed the start of intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar, which is set up for Saturday, calling on parties involved to bank on the grand opportunity for peacemaking.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Doha later in the day to attend the intra-Afghan negotiations.
“I can announce, with great pride, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be departing this evening on a historic trip to Doha for the beginning of intra-Afghan peace negotiations,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House. Trump also said that the United States will reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan to 4,000 “in a very short period of time.”
The start of these negotiations beginning September 12 follows intense diplomatic efforts, including the US-Taliban Agreement and the US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration, which were agreed to in February.
“We’ve been negotiating with them for quite some time, getting along with them, moved a lot of soldiers out,” Trump said.
In a statement, Pompeo welcomed the announcement that Afghanistan peace negotiations will begin on September 12.
The start of these talks marks a historic opportunity for Afghanistan to bring an end to four decades of war and bloodshed, he said.
“Only through an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led political process — one that respects the views of all Afghan communities, including women and ethnic and religious minorities–can the parties achieve a durable peace,” he said.
Pompeo called on the negotiators “to demonstrate the pragmatism, restraint, and flexibility this process will require to succeed.”
He said the people of Afghanistan and the international community will be watching closely and that the United States is prepared to support as requested.
“The United States recalls the commitment by the Afghan government and the Taliban that terrorists can never again use Afghan soil to threaten the United States or its allies. Now is the time for peace for Afghanistan,” he said.
US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who held 18-month-long talks with the Taliban in Doha that led to a peace deal with the group, welcomed the announcements by Qatar, the Afghan Presidential Palace, and the Taliban to start the negotiations on Sep 12.
He said “this is a historic opportunity to end a forty-year war that has no military solution and kills too many Afghans.”
“The road to get here has been long and will remain difficult. No important achievement is ever easy. It is now the responsibility of Afghan leaders to capitalize on this moment and end this brutal and mindless war,” he said in a tweet.
“There is no political settlement without compromise. Recent Afghan history shows that seeking a monopoly of power and enforcing one’s ideology by force leads to conflict and makes the country vulnerable to interference by others.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the announcement on the start of the talks and said “all parties should seize this historic opportunity and build on the gains made with so much sacrifice. He reiterated that NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Eriksen Soreide also welcomed the announcement and said in a statement that “this is an historic opportunity for peace in Afghanistan. “We encourage a constructive and inclusive approach at the negotiating table,” she said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar announced that Afghanistan Peace Negotiations will commence in Doha on Saturday. The ministry said these vitally important direct negotiations between the different Afghan parties represented a step forward in bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan.
Pakistan also welcomed the announcement of the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations. “We hope these negotiations would lead to sustainable peace in Afghanistan, which would bring prosperity to the country. Our strong support to the process would continue,” Pakistan’s special envoy Mohammad Sadiq said.