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Abdullah harps on Taliban; ‘Rise in violence unacceptable’

10 Jul 2020 Afghanistan Times

AT News KABUL:  A top Afghan official has warned the Taliban that the current level of violence by the group is unacceptable to advancing the peace process. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, on Friday has harped on the Taliban for continuation of violence that hampering the peace process from going forward. He said this at the end of a four-day meeting titled “Strengthening Regional and International Consensus”.  The meeting was hosted by the Afghan government in which representatives of 20 countries and international organizations, including the United States and the United Nations, had held virtual discussion on Afghan peace process. The participants agreed for a peace process under Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned. “We work for a sustainable and inclusive peace, in which the past achievement of 19 years to be observed,” he said. Releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners is part of confidence building measures and we have to go with the first phase, Abdullah said. “I had a detailed discussion in regards with the President Ghani.” Abdullah said moving from first phase to next which is direct engagement with the Taliban is crucial, but level of violence from the Taliban side is unacceptable. The government will exert all out-efforts to complete the prisoner release process, he added. Both sides (Government-Taliban) have to be ready for compromise during the talks, Abdullah said. “Both sides need to carry the talks with good faith, with more flexibility for a collective action in achieving higher objectivities.” Compromise doesn’t mean to ignore past achievements. “It really doesn’t mean to make compromise on the achievements of the Afghan people, which are their fundamental rights.” The first round of intra-Afghan negotiations to be held in Qatar, Abdullah said – it will happen one week after the completion of the prisoner swap. The process of prisoner exchange has hit wall after the Afghan government rejected to release at least 600 Taliban prisoners who were involved in moral crimes, including rape charges. Under the terms of a U.S.-Taliban deal, Kabul pledged to free some 5,000 Taliban prisoners in a swap that would see the insurgents release around 1,000 Afghan security force captives. But National Security Council (NSC) spokesman Javid Faisal has recently said that 600 prisoners the Taliban asked to be freed still had “serious criminal cases” against them. Taliban has to agree and practically take actions to reduce violence. “There is need for a commitment from the Taliban on reduction of violence and comprehensive ceasefire to engage in the process,” Abdullah added.

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