KABUL: Subsequent to the dramatic rise in violence across Afghanistan, the US point-man for the country’s reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday stressed strict adherence to all articles of the US-Taliban agreement and the US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration signed in February.
In a series of tweets, he said “unfounded charges of violations and inflammatory rhetoric do not advance peace.”
Khalilzad’s remarks come in the wake of the Taliban’s claim that the US has violated the Doha pact by conducting airstrikes in Helmand and Farah.
Continued high levels of violence could threaten the peace process and the agreement and the core understanding that there is no military solution, warned Khalilzad, adding “Violence today remains distressingly high in spite of the recent reaffirmation of the need for a substantial reduction.”
He said the recent escalation in the conflict had led to a meeting between the US and the Taliban whereby all sides agreed to decrease attacks and strikes and reduce violence and casualties.
Khalilzad said violence in Helmand had decreased as a result but violence overall in the country remained high.
“Our expectation has been and remains that violence comes down and stays down,” the US diplomat continued, adding “it was a focus of the Agreement we signed, further highlighted in connection with the releases of the last batch of prisoners and reaffirmed again in the most recent commitment all sides made to adhere to all aspects of the deal.”
Meanwhile, in a veiled reference to the Taliban, he dubbed the belief that violence escalation could win concessions at the negotiating table as ‘risky’. “Such an approach can undermine the peace process and repeats past miscalculations by Afghan leaders.”
Khalilzad concluded that adhering to the letter and spirit of what was negotiated would help minimize Afghan loss of life and protect the historic opportunity made available for peace, which mustn’t be missed.