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May 17, 2021

Afghan ceasefire ends amid calls for fresh peace talks

KABUL: A three-day ceasefire marked by violent attacks — most claimed by the Islamic State group — ended Sunday in Afghanistan amid calls for renewed peace talks between the government and Taliban.

Taliban political spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said the negotiating teams of the government and the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban refer to their ousted regime, met briefly Saturday in the Middle Eastern State of Qatar. They renewed their commitment to finding a peaceful end to the war and called for an early start to talks that have been stalled, he said. The US has been pressing for accelerated talks as it withdraws the last of its 2,500-3,500 soldiers and Nato its remaining 7,000 allied forces.

Even as the Taliban and government signed on to the ceasefire, which was declared to mark the Eidul Fitr, violence continued unabated in Afghanistan. On Saturday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed concern about the rapid withdrawal of US and Nato forces in a phone call with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Wang called the withdrawal hasty and warned it would “severely” impact the Afghan peace process and negatively affect regional stability. He called on the United Nations to play a greater role.