US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press conference on Tuesday urged the Taliban to reduce violence in Afghanistan.
“They (Taliban) need to reduce violence...They have made real commitments about the level of violence, the nature of what will take place, what they will do as we proceed towards the path where intra-Afghan negotiations begin,” Pompeo said.
Speaking about the delegates announced by the Afghan government for intra-Afghan talks with Taliban, Pompeo said: “We’ve seen a team identified. Looks like it’s pretty inclusive, pretty broad. We’re happy about that.”
“We’ve begun to see some work done on prisoner releases as well, all elements that have to come together so we can get to the intra-Afghan negotiations, which will ultimately prove to be the only mechanism that has any hope of delivering peace and reconciliation to the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
In an answer to whether the US would reconsider its $ 1 billion aid cut following the formation of the negotiating team and Abdullah's endorsement, Pompeo said that the US will "constantly re-evaluate" its posture with respect to Afghanistan, with security assistance and humanitarian aid.
He added: “we also announced that we were providing assistance to them to combat COVID. I think the number was 15 million.”
UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ingrid Hayden, while briefing to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, said that “the seriousness of the situation (in Afghanistan) is underlined by the US decision on 23 March to immediately reduce assistance by $1B for 2020 and their preparedness to do the same again the year after.”
“Given the state’s heavy reliance on donor funding, this could have severe consequences for Afghanistan’s fiscal viability, as well as for socio-economic outcomes in the country. Now, with the onslaught of COVID-19, many donors are likely to turn inwards to meet the needs of their own population. Afghanistan needs to demonstrate a compelling case for the continued investment of international resources,” said.
She also said that the UN is urging all Afghan parties to work together to resolve their differences peacefully for the good of the people of Afghanistan.
“Now is not the time for divisions. Now is the time for statesmanship, accommodation and inclusivity. The interests of Afghans must come first – including the rights of all women, minorities and youth,” she said.
Also speaking at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Afghanistan's envoy to the UN Adela Raz welcomed the secretary-general's call for a global ceasefire amid COVID-19 and made an appeal for council members to call on the Taliban to enact "at least a humanitarian ceasefire."
Referring to recently-formed peace negotiations team, Raz said: "This is not just a decision of the govt, but a committed call by the Afghan people to signal that the country is willing to allow the Taliban to responsibly & respectfully work with the govt to find the best way to join the existing govt structure."
Referring to the recently-formed negotiations team in Kabul, Raz said: "This is not just a decision of the government, but a committed call by the Afghan people to signal that the country is willing to allow the Taliban to responsibly and respectfully work with the government to find the best way to join the existing government structure."
UK chargé d’affaires to the UN, Jonathan Allen, at the meeting of members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday said that violence only hinders efforts to tackle the virus, so it is vital that the Taliban ceases its attacks.
“We are disappointed that political leaders in Kabul have been unable to unite ahead of negotiations. They must also follow through on their promises and form a genuinely inclusive government. The Afghan people expect and deserve nothing less,” said Allen in a statement.
Allen also stated: "It is clear that a political process is the only way forward for a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Developments last month provided some hope, but the Taliban must show that it is serious about peace by engaging in Intra-Afghan negotiations.”