The UN envoy to Afghanistan on Tuesday urged all Afghan groups to open direct talks to end the country’s long conflict. This came after US President Donald Trump said the Afghanistan peace talks with the Taliban are “dead”. Speaking to reporters at the White House Trump had said the United States had hit the group harder in the last four days than any time in 10 years. “They (talks with the Taliban) are dead. As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead,” he said.
Tadamichi Yamamoto said that violence threatened Afghanistan’s presidential elections scheduled for September 28 and called on the Taliban to condemn all poll-related attacks.
Speaking at a Security Council debate, Yamamoto said: “The events of recent days and weeks have shown, more than ever, the urgency of finding a political settlement.
“Conflict can only be resolved by direct talks between Afghan people. It is imperative therefore that direct talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban commence as soon as possible.”
He added that attacks against polling centres and civilians participating in election preparations were “unacceptable,” and he warned of the risk of low voter turnout and fraud.
Some 20,000 US and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan after formally ending their combat role in 2014.
Fearing a return to power of the hardline Taliban, many worry the deal and subsequent negotiations will lead to a reduction in personal freedoms and limited women’s rights that modern Afghans have grown accustomed to.
US troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda, which was sheltered by the former Taliban regime. Washington now wants to end its military involvement—the longest in its history—and has been talking to the Taliban since at least 2018.