Abu Dhabi


New York

Wed, 22 Jan 2020 15:26 GMT

EU Calls for Ceasefire in Afghanistan


7Dnews London - AFP

Mon, 21 Oct 2019 01:28 GMT

European Union officials on Sunday October 20th called for a ceasefire in Afghanistan, saying the recent collapse of US-Taliban talks provided a chance to reach a truce, AFP reported.

Negotiations had been in the final stages for a deal that would have seen the US pull troops from Afghanistan after 18 years in return for various Taliban guarantees. But last month, US President Donald Trump declared talks with the insurgents "dead", citing a Taliban attack that killed a US soldier.

The deal included no immediate, comprehensive ceasefire, and would supposedly have paved the way for a reduction in violence and later talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Roland Kobia, the EU special envoy for Afghanistan, said the talks' collapse provided a chance to push for a ceasefire which could entice Trump to consider resuming negotiations.

"It's the right moment and the right opportunity to maybe go one step beyond a simple reduction in violence and explore ways in which a ceasefire... will take place," Kobia told Kabul journalists.

"The idea is really to see how we can move the ceasefire idea forward instead of leaving it for later... There is an opportunity here today".

Meanwhile, violence in Afghanistan continues to intensify daily. On Friday October 18th, a bomb exploded in a mosque in Nangarhar province, killing at least 70 people.

Afghanistan is currently in the midst of an uneasy waiting period following the first round of presidential elections on September 28th.

The Independent Election Commission said results were supposed to be released Saturday but have been indefinitely delayed due to "technical issues."

Pierre Mayaudon, head of the EU delegation in Afghanistan, said a delay of a few days to finalise results was legitimate to ensure votes were fairly counted.

"But not many more days that again will go into weeks and will possibly raise the perception that something is happening," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Kabul on Sunday on an unannounced visit to meet with US troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

"I'm looking... to get a really good feel for what's happening on the ground in Afghanistan, and to talk what the way ahead may look like as well," Esper told reporters, according to a Pentagon transcript.

"We think a political agreement is always the best way forward with regard to next steps in Afghanistan," Esper said.

Middle East Europe