Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on Monday said that imposing new conditions to start intra-Afghan negotiations with the Taliban shows a lack of commitment to the process, and that there shouldn’t be any preconditions.
He referred to the Presidential Palace’s insisting on a ceasefire by the Taliban. The Taliban, according to the latest reports, has offered a short-term reduction in violence, but has been asked by the US to commit to a long-term reduction in violence. The US, by all accounts, is not asking for a complete ceasefire before intra-Afghan talks begin.
Abdullah said that any effective step towards a reduction in violence ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations is acceptable.
“Imposing conditions for beginning (intra-Afghan) negotiations shows a willingness to delay and a lack of commitment,” Abdullah said. “Any step towards a reduction in violence that is tangible – ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations – and which is accompanied by reduction in suffering of the Afghan people and casualties of the Afghan people, is as a positive step.”
But the Presidential Palace remains firm in its insistence on a ceasefire.
“It might happen that the Taliban would accept a considerable reduction in violence, or close to ceasefire, or a ceasefire proper, and stop their attacks against the people of Afghanistan,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.
Some Afghan politicians who met with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Kabul said they are optimistic about a result in the peace talks between the United States negotiators and the Taliban.
“Mr. Khalilzad was optimistic that the talks have not stopped and they are underway and discussions are underway on small matters,” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, an analyst.
Notably, President Ghani’s account differed, saying: Mr. Khalilzad stated that there wasn't considerable progress in talks with the Taliban,” but that he (Khalilzad) hoped for results in the future.
On Monday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded “demonstrable evidence” from the Taliban that it can and will reduce violence before signing a deal that would lead to Afghanistan peace talks and a withdrawal of American troops from the country, the Associated Press reported.
Speaking at a news conference in neighboring Uzbekistan, Pompeo said a deal is close but that they have been close before and failed because the Taliban was unable to demonstrate its seriousness.
“We’re working on a peace and reconciliation plan, putting the commas in the right place, getting the sentences right,” he said as quoted by the Associated Press. “We got close once before to having an agreement: a piece of paper that we mutually executed, and the Taliban were unable to demonstrate either their will or capacity or both to deliver on a reduction in violence.”