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U.S., Russia, China, Pakistan Urge Taliban To Agree To Cease-Fire, Negotiations With Kabul

13 Jul 2019 Radio Free Europe

The United States, Russia, China, and Pakistan have called on the Taliban to immediately agree to a cease-fire and to direct negotiations with the Afghan government.

The four countries held talks in Beijing from July 11-12 amid U.S. and international efforts to end the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.

According to a statement released by the U.S. State Department on July 12, the four countries "encouraged all parties to take steps to reduce violence leading to a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire that starts with intra-Afghan negotiations."

The countries also called for direct negotiations involving the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani's government, and other Afghans to "produce a peace framework as soon as possible."

The statement came after the Taliban and an Afghan delegation, including some government officials, on July 9 agreed at talks in Qatar on a road map for a future political settlement in what was seen as a major step toward ending the war.

The Taliban has refused to negotiate directly with the Western-backed Kabul government, and the government officials who attended the Qatar talks did so in a personal capacity.

The U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has held eight rounds of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, describing the latest round that ended on July 9 as the "most productive" ever.

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