By: Lailuma Noori
KABUL: The European Union (EU) says there is a chance for a ceasefire in Afghanistan, despite renewed violence in the country after the collapse of talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban militant group.
“It’s the right moment and the right opportunity to maybe go one step beyond a simple reduction in violence and explore ways in which a ceasefire… will take place,” Roland Kobia, the EU special envoy for Afghanistan, told journalists at the government media and information center in Kabul the other day.
“The idea is really to see how we can move the ceasefire idea forward instead of leaving it for later… There is an opportunity here today,” he added.
Talks collapsed between the US and Taliban on September 9 after the militant group claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.
Kobia did not explain how the collapse of those talks now provided an opportunity, though he seemed to signal that the EU could now take the initiative.
The EU official said a ceasefire would help normalize future relations between the European bloc and the Taliban, which he suggested might return to power in “one form or another” within months.
“A ceasefire would be a token, a guarantee of goodwill and good preparation for the normalization of these relationships,” he said. The Taliban has previously ruled out an immediate ceasefire.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit.
Esper met “key leaders and receive an operational update,” said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry.
The US’s chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, has met with Taliban members in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, raising the possibility that Washington is seeking to resume the talks.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have earlier said that “doors are open” and US President Donald Trump should resume peace talks in the future. The group has insisted negotiations as the only way for peace in Afghanistan.
Contrary to the group’s claims, Taliban have increased their attacks across the country which pushed the US administration to call off the talks in Doha.
On Saturday, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning recent attack on a mosque in Nangarhar, saying the Taliban “must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace”.