© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Afghan police officer guards the checkpoint on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan July 13, 2021. REUTERS / Mohammad Ismail
KABUL (Reuters) – Fifteen diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Kabul joined forces on Monday to urge the Taliban to end military offensives in Afghanistan, just hours after a peace meeting in Doha failed to agree on a ceasefire.
A delegation of senior Afghan leaders met with Taliban leaders in the Qatari capital for the past two days, but a Taliban statement released late Sunday did not mention an end to escalating violence in Afghanistan.
“With this Eid al-Adha, the Taliban should finally lay down their arms and show the world their commitment to the peace process,” said the 15 missions and the NATO representative with a view to the Muslim holiday in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
The joint statement was made by Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Union Delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the senior civilian representative supported by NATO.
During the last Eid holiday, the Taliban called temporary ceasefire and said they wanted the Afghans to spend in peace.
There was no such announcement this time, as the Taliban are making rapid territorial gains on an almost unprecedented scale in nationwide fighting.
The insurgents have been encouraged as foreign troops on the verge of complete retreat after 20 years of fighting.
Monday’s statement also condemned violations of law, such as attempts to close schools and media facilities in areas recently captured by the Taliban, who had previously denied such allegations.
At meetings between Afghan leaders and the Taliban in Doha, options for reaching a political solution to end the conflict were discussed, said the chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council, Abdullah Abdullah, who took part in the talks on Monday.
“We have agreed to continue talks, seek a political solution to the current crisis, avoid civilian casualties, facilitate humanitarian aid and medical care to combat the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Abdullah on Twitter.
A Taliban statement late Sunday evening added: “Both sides agreed that an expedition is needed in the peace talks in order to find a fair and lasting solution to the current problem in Afghanistan as soon as possible.”
Peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan counterparts began in September last year, but did not make any progress.
The Taliban spokesman in Doha, Mohammed Naeem, also denied media reports that the insurgent group had agreed to an oath in exchange for the release of its prisoners.