The Afghan government and the Taliban have agreed to accelerate peace talks after Russia hosted an international conference aimed at reviving a stalled peace process, the RIA news agency reported on Friday, citing a senior Afghan official.
The move comes after Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan called on Afghanistan’s warring sides to reach an immediate ceasefire.
On Thursday, Head of the Afghan peace council Dr Abdullah Abdullah said that the Afghan government is ready to discuss "any topics" with the Taliban in order to bring peace and prosperity to the country.
In his speech during Moscow Conference on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan, organised by troika member states and hosted by Russia, Abdullah said that the Afghan government reiterated its commitment for the peaceful settlement of the crisis in Afghanistan during the conference.
"We called for an end to violence and the acceleration of the peace talks. We asked the regional countries and beyond to help Afghanistan in its derive to achieve a just and lasting peace," he wrote on his official Twitter handle soon after attending the conference.
He said that the negotiation team of Afghanistan is ready to discuss any topic with the Taliban. "We called for an end to targeted killings, and a comprehensive ceasefire to begin the next rounds of the talks in a peaceful environment."
Dr Abdullah also thanked the regional countries for their support for peace but added that it is not only beneficial for the people of Afghanistan, but also for the entire region and beyond. "Peace and security in Afghanistan will facilitate the realisation of connectivity and major projects."
He also stated that Afghanistan considered the Moscow conference not to only boost the Doha talks, but also to support the upcoming Turkey conference on Afghanistan.
While speaking to Express News anchorperson Rehman Azhar before heading to Moscow, Dr Abdullah Abdullah said that Pakistan’s consistent support for Afghan peace process is crucial for peaceful settlement in the war-torn country.
“There are no winners in fighting and there are no losers in peaceful settlement. The Taliban should hear from all countries including the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that continuation of the war does not have any support anywhere in the world,” he said
Talking about the trust factor between the two countries, he said that it is improving between Afghanistan and Pakistan and added that during his last visit to Islamabad he discussed all aspects of bilateral relations between the two neighbouring countries.
“I am also grateful to the government of Pakistan and the National Assembly of Pakistan for the steps they have taken with regards to facilitation of visa and trade and transit. But we need to continue to work together and I wouldn’t say that now there is no mistrust but both sides need to work more..,” Dr Abdullah said.
Pakistan, he said, is an important player in the Afghan peace process and its support is crucial for the peaceful settlement in the war-stricken country.