NATO leaders in a joint statement on Thursday reiterated their call to the Taliban to engage in the Afghan-led and owned peace process as the only “pathway” to a sustainable resolution of the conflict.
The statement which focused on eight key points, described NATO leaders’ support and commitment to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability, following the end of two-day summit in Brussels.
The NATO leaders in the statement said that the Afghan people demand peace and they are encouraged by the momentum building in that direction. “We remain united in our commitment to help Afghanistan attain it.”
“We pay tribute to the sacrifice and resilience of the Afghan people who have wanted peace for many years, and to the men and women serving in the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and in the Resolute Support Mission.
“We honour all those who have lost their lives or have been wounded in support of a better future for Afghanistan that is free from terrorism.”
NATO leaders in the statement said that their shared aim remains a stable and secure Afghanistan that will never again serve as a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our shared security.
Effective, professional, and self-sustaining Afghan forces will be better able to provide security for the country, create the conditions for a negotiated resolution of the conflict through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, and demonstrate to the Taliban that it cannot prevail through force.
“We welcome the progress the Afghan security institutions are making as a result of Resolute Support’s capacity-building efforts, and the Afghan-led institutional reforms which are resulting in strengthened professionalism and increased effectiveness on the battlefield. We reiterate our support for the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces Roadmap.”
According to the statement, a political solution to the conflict with the Taliban, based on national consensus, will be essential in order to achieve sustainable stability and security.
The statement said that NATO allies and operational partners welcome the Afghan government’s unprecedented offer of unconditional peace talks to the Taliban.
“We fully support the Afghan government’s aim of reaching an inclusive peace agreement with the Taliban, and note with particular appreciation the outcomes of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation conference in Afghanistan on 28 February, and the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan held on 26-27 March.”
The NATO leaders also commend the Afghan government’s commitment to demonstrate the benefits of peace, and its determination to advance the peace process and reduce violence through its announcement of a unilateral cease-fire in June. “We note that the Taliban participated in the Eid al-Fitr cease-fire.”
Their leadership’s rejection of the extension proposed by the Afghan government will only result in harm to innocent Afghan citizens, the statement said.
“We reiterate our call to the Taliban to engage credibly in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and stress that this is the only pathway to a sustainable resolution of the conflict.”
The statement, meanwhile said that NATO allies and operational partners will respect and support a negotiated and durable political settlement led by Afghans which ends violence, cuts ties to terrorism and protects the human rights of all Afghan citizens, notably those of women and children.
“We also support the Afghan government’s intention to address all contested issues between the parties, including those relating to the future military role of the international community in Afghanistan.”
The statement also noted that the upcoming Geneva ministerial conference on Afghanistan in Nov. 2018 will be an important opportunity to review the progress achieved, particularly the Afghan government’s commitment to accountability and reforms, and to underscore the International Community’s continued commitment to development assistance.
“A stable Afghanistan is in our interest and that of the entire region. Regional actors have a significant role to play in achieving peace and stabilisation in Afghanistan by fully supporting a negotiated political solution, by not lending any form of support to the insurgency, by improving conditions for Afghan economic development, and by working with the Afghanistan.