WASHINGTON: The United States said on Wednesday that the first round of negotiations between the Afghan Taliban and the High Peace Council was a “positive step” and appreciated the role Pakistan had played in it.
“Pakistan has also been involved in these, and we certainly appreciate its efforts and involvement in this as well. It’s an important – obviously important partner,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner during the daily press briefing in Washington on Wednesday.
Read: US welcomes Afghan-Taliban talks: White House
“We certainly commend the government of Afghanistan for initiating this reconciliation process with the Taliban, and we strongly support the government’s efforts and prioritisation of peace and reconciliation.”
Toner said that the US, which was an observer for the Murree-based talks along with China, believes that an “Afghan-led and an Afghan-owned peace effort and reconciliation process is really the best and surest way to end the violence and ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the region.”
Positive step in the right direction
Asked about any outcomes that the US was hoping for from the talks, Toner said that the obvious desire was for an end to the ongoing violence.
“Ongoing violence, is obviously a priority in any situation but certainly in this case.“
Toner added that the US policy towards any peace talks involving the Taliban had always been that renouncement of violene to be part of any outcome. “We want to see them [Afghan Taliban] break any associations with international terrorism, and we also want to see them [Afghan Taliban] accept the Afghan constitution, including its protections for women and minorities.”
The State Department spokesperson, however added that the general direction of the talks had been positive. “In general, this is a positive step, a step in the right direction – these peace talks.”
Read: With the promise to meet again, Taliban, Afghan officials conclude first round of peace talks
Asked about the US observer who sat in on the talks which were held in Murree on Tuesday, Toner said that personnel from the US mission in Kabul had participated. “I don’t believe I have exactly who was there – in an observer status, I believe. So – but I don’t have the exact individual’s name or position.”
On Tuesday, four members of the Afghan High Peace Council met with three members of the Afghan Taliban in Murree with officials from the US and China sitting in on the meeting as observers. The talks concluded with the promise of another round after Ramazan ends.