State Department wants Taliban to join peace process

sdusPESHAWAR: The Obama administration has asked the Taliban to engage in a peace process and ultimately become a legitimate part of the political system of a sovereign and united Afghanistan.

State Department spokesman John Kirby issued the call days after the militant movement refused to enter a reconciliation dialogue with the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

Instead of continuing to fight against their fellow citizens and destabilising the country, they should engage in the peace process, the State Department spokesman added.

There should be a sense of urgency around getting thedialogue up and running, Kirby told journalists at a news conference in Washington on Monday.

“If there’s no peace process in place…we would and the Afghan security forces would have to prepare themselves for … increased violence in the spring and summer months,” he said.

On March 5, the Taliban said they would not take part in peace talks with the government, renewing their demand that all foreign fighters must leave Afghanistan.

However, senior Afghan government officials, including the president and his chief executive officer, are still optimistic of the militants joining the peace process.

“Obviously, we completely associate ourselves with what President Ghani said. We join him in calling for the Taliban to participate in these talks. And as we’ve said before, they have a choice,” Kirby remarked.

He said President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry remained committed to seeing an Afghan-led reconciliation process succeed. “It’s what we all want.”

He went on to note some coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan in working together to address the real threat that emanated from the border region. -Pajhwok

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