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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

The European Union expresses concern over the escalation of violence in Afghanistan. The Forum condemned Taliban’s move to ignore the terms of the deal to unleash terror on government troops and public places.

“The EU Delegation in agreement with EU Heads of Mission based in Kabul is deeply concerned about the marked escalation of violence experienced throughout Afghanistan since the EiD-ceasefire.,” the said the forum in a statement. “The situation has further deteriorated since 29 May 2020 when the EU Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers already declared the level of violence unacceptable.”

“The attacks by the Taliban against Afghan National Defence and Security Forces are undermining the prospect for intra-Afghan Negotiations; this must end and a full-fledged ceasefire enter into force. Violence against civilians has also continued. It is a violation of international humanitarian law, which profoundly undermines the confidence and trust necessary for peace negotiations.

“The EU strongly condemns targeted killings, which have risen sharply in recent weeks, directed against clergy, journalists’ and media workers, human rights defenders, healthcare personnel and others. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to stifle debate in advance of peace negotiations. These crimes need to be investigated and the responsible brought to justice.

“One such attack is the cowardly assassination of two staff members of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission on 27 June 2020. We join the Commission in its grief and encourage it to continue its invaluable work for peace and human rights in Afghanistan, including on victims’ rights and advocacy.”

The EU said the violence must end now.

KANDAHAR, July 18, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Members of Afghan security forces stand guard at the site of the attack outside the provincial police headquarters in Kandahar, capital of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, July 18, 2019. At least 12 people were killed and over 90 others injured after a Taliban car bombing and ensuing gun fire rocked provincial police headquarters in Kandahar city, capital of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, on Thursday, witnesses said. (Xinhua/Sanaullah Seiam/IANS) by .
Members of Afghan security forces stand guard at the site of the attack outside the provincial police headquarters in Kandahar. (Xinhua/Sanaullah Seiam/IANS)

“The violence must stop now and an immediate humanitarian ceasefire put in place. A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire is a subsequent step that needs to accompany the Intra-Afghan Negotiations,” the EU said in the statement.

Peace Talks

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi here on the peace process in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan, the second one in a month, was part of his regular engagement for consultations and exchange of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, Xinhua news agency quoted the Pakistan Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement.

During the meeting on Wednesday, Qureshi welcomed the latest developments including announcements on formation of a negotiating team and establishment of the High Council for National Reconciliation by the Afghan government for the negotiations with the Taliban, according to the statement.

U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad during the talks in Doha

“He (Qureshi) urged that all sides should make earnest efforts for reduction in violence. He also emphasized that it was important not to let the spoilers undermine or derail the process of intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement said.

The Minister expressed the hope that release of prisoners would be completed soon to pave the way for the earliest commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.

Under the Taliban-US agreement signed on February 29, the Afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban would free 1,000 prisoners of the government.

The slow pace of the release of prisoners has delayed the intra-Afghan dialogue, which was scheduled to start on March 10.

Qureshi also raised the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and underlined the role of the international community for a time-bound and well-resourced roadmap for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour.

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