US Special Representative Stresses Importance Of Reducing Violence Amid Afghan Peace Talks

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 21st September, 2020) US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is calling for a reduction of violence in Afghanistan amid Doha peace talks.

"Over the last few days, there has been a clear rise in violence in Afghanistan. This escalation is regrettable as Afghans, including many civilians, are losing their lives. Given the recent start of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations, it is imperative all sides reduce violence significantly," Khalilzad wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Violent clashes and bomb blasts have been reported in Afghanistan over the last few days despite the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha.

On Sunday, a local source told Sputnik that at least ten police officers and 15 Taliban members had been killed in ongoing clashes between security forces and the militant group in Afghanistan's central Uruzgan province. Several hundred Taliban fighters carried out attacks on security and defense forces in Uruzgan's Gizab district and took control over most of the area over the past three days, with the deadly fighting entering its fourth day on Sunday, the source said.

On Saturday, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, told Sputnik that as many as 15 civilians, including women and children, had been killed or wounded after a pair of blasts in the Afghan provinces of Balkh and Paktika.

The Afghan government and the Taliban launched peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, earlier this month, after both sides successfully completed a long-awaited prisoner exchange arrangement. There is no timeline on the discussions, which are the first direct talks between the two warring sides.

On February 29, the United States and the Taliban movement signed a peace deal in Doha, Qatar, stipulating a gradual withdrawal of US troops as well as the beginning of intra-Afghan negotiations and prisoner exchanges. The talks were delayed multiple times as the Afghan government and the Taliban disagreed over the prisoner exchange process.

Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, said at a press conference on September 13 that the Doha peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban would be lengthy, but the two sides were aware of the Afghan people's desire to end violence as soon as possible.