News ID: 260519
Published: 0601 GMT October 20, 2019

EU sees ‘chance for ceasefire’ in Afghanistan despite spike in violence

EU sees ‘chance for ceasefire’ in Afghanistan despite spike in violence

The European Union (EU) says there is a chance for a ceasefire in Afghanistan, despite renewed violence in the country after the collapse of talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban militant group.

“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,” Roland Kobia, the EU special envoy for Afghanistan, told journalists in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday.

“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,” he added, Presstv Reported.

Talks collapsed between the US and Taliban on September 9 after the militant group claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.

The Afghan government was already excluded from the negotiations because the Taliban “do not recognize” the administration in Kabul.

Kobia did not explain how the collapse of those talks now provided an opportunity, though he seemed to signal that the EU could now take the initiative.

The EU official said a ceasefire would help normalize future relations between the European bloc and the Taliban, which he suggested might return to power in “one form or another” within months.

“A ceasefire would be a token, a guarantee of goodwill and good preparation for the normalization of these relationships,” he said.

The Taliban has previously ruled out an immediate ceasefire.

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit.

Esper was due to meet with “key leaders and receive an operational update,” said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry.

The US’s chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, has met with Taliban members in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, raising the possibility that Washington is seeking to resume the talks.

Pakistan has helped facilitate the talks before.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan to remove a Taliban regime in 2001. But insecurity has spiked, and US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.

   
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