BRUSSELS: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has urged the Afghan Taliban to shun violence and join a "humanitarian ceasefire" so that the dream of lasting peace in the country is realized.
In a statement issued Wednesday by the North Atlantic Council (NAC), the NATO's political decision-making body, the intergovernmental military alliance reiterated that an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process was the "only way to deliver sustainable peace to the Afghan people and to ensure Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability".
It said it would help make the environment more conducive for the talks and fulfilment of the Taliban's promises to go ahead. "We call on all sides to rapidly resolve the remaining issues still precluding the start of inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations," the statement read.
"The current level of violence – driven especially by Taliban attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, remains unacceptably high, causing instability and undermining confidence in the peace process," it added further.
The NATO highlighted the Eid-ul-Fitr ceasefires in Afghanistan during 2018 and 2020, as well as reduced violence ahead of the US-Taliban peace deal, referencing the events to underscore the importance for the group to "agree to a humanitarian ceasefire that applies to all sides".
"Both sides must also urgently resolve issues related to prisoner releases," it said. "The military presence of the Alliance and its partners in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is conditions-based," the NATO added, noting that its consultations and adjustment of the number of troops was conditional.
"We urge the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to fulfil their commitments, including entering into intra-Afghan negotiations and ensuring terrorists never again find a safe haven on Afghan soil.
"Recent heinous attacks targeting civilians, including women, children, civil society members, religious figures, and health care workers throughout Afghanistan underscore the urgency of fulfilling these critical commitments," it said.
The intergovernmental alliance said it was committed to the Afghan peace process through the Resolute Support Mission but emphasised on the importance of the intra-Afghan negotiations to be held soon.
"It is time for all parties to seize this moment for peace," the NATO said.
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