The chief US diplomat for South Asian affairs, Alice Wells, said there is a need for a reduction in violence in the form that the Afghan people will feel it and appreciate it.
The US diplomat, in a media briefing after her visit to three South Asian nations – India, and Sri Lanka and Pakistan – when asked by a reporter, confirmed hearing reports of increased Taliban violence in Afghanistan, and said:
"It obviously underscores why there needs to be a peace process and why the Afghan people seek peace. It also underscores the violence and the Taliban’s lack of inhibition in attacking civilians,” Wells said quoted in a statement by the US Department of State on Friday.
However, multiple sources and international watchdog groups have attested to increased civilian casualties caused by all sides in the conflict, with many caused by US airstrikes.
Wells also said that the US is encouraging the Taliban – through its negotiators in Doha – to agree on a reduction in violence.
“There has to be the focus on the reduction in violence that the Afghan people can see and feel and appreciate,” she said.
“I mean, the only thing I can note is that Ambassador Khalilzad and his team are in Doha. They are encouraging the Taliban to make a commitment to a reduction in force that would allow Afghans to sit at a negotiating table. And so that process continues,” she added.
She also praised Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process.
“We appreciate the steps Pakistan has taken to advance the Afghan peace process, and Pakistan has important leverage to promote lasting security and stability in Afghanistan,” Wells added.
Her remarks come as US President Donald Trump also insisted on a reduction in violence by the Taliban in Afghanistan in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani in Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.
But the Afghan government is still insisting on its previous stance which is pushing the Taliban to agree on a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported on Friday that the Taliban, on their website, expressed frustration with what they describe as additional US demands in peace talks — even after they had offered a reduction in violence.
The report says that the Taliban have not publicly outlined what that would entail and did not explain the new Washington demands.
Sami Yusufzai, a reporter in Pakistan, in a tweet, quoted a Taliban leader saying that the US is changing demands and conditions and that there isn’t a single demand, but rather the “US’s demands are changing every day.”
Amnesty International (AI), in a message aimed at the US and the Taliban on Friday, stated that any potential agreement on the reduction in violence must include a commitment by both sides to abide by the laws of war and end all attacks on civilians.
“The USA and the Afghan Taliban’s negotiations over a reduction in violence must include a commitment by both sides to abide by the laws of war and end all attacks on civilians,” the watchdog said.