Fourth round of Afghan peace consultations between US, Russia and China have taken place. Pakistan joined group for second time.
In a statement issue late Monday night, the US Department of State said that envoys from Pakistan, Russia, US and China in their recent meeting on peace in Afghanistan reaffirmed their support for Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
“The Special Representatives of Russia, China, and the United States of America held their fourth consultation on the Afghan peace process in Moscow on October 25, 2019. Russia, China, the United States and Pakistan also held the second round of four-party consultations. Respectful of the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, participants discussed ways to support the Afghan people’s desire for a lasting peace.”
1. Acknowledged the widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for lasting peace and an end to the war.
2. Reviewed the current situation in Afghanistan and their joint efforts to reach a sustainable settlement in the country by political and diplomatic means.
3. Confirmed that a sustainable peace can be achieved only through a negotiated political settlement.
4. Committed to work with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, both government leaders and others, and the Taliban to reach a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement that ends the war for the benefit of all Afghans and that contributes to regional stability and global security.
5. In order to create an environment conducive for negotiations, urged all sides to immediately reduce violence.
6. Stated their expectations that all sides will observe a ceasefire for the duration of intra-Afghan negotiations to enable participants to reach agreement on a political roadmap for Afghanistan’s future.
7. Called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to release significant numbers of prisoners at the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.
8. Reaffirmed that any peace agreement must include protections for the rights of all Afghans, including women, men, children and minorities, and should respond to the strong desire of Afghans for economic, social, and political development including rule of law.
9. Called on all Afghans including the government and the Taliban to ensure international terrorists do not use Afghan soil to threaten the security of any other country.
10. Highlighted the importance of fighting illegal drug production and trafficking and urged all sides to eliminate the drug threat in Afghanistan.
11. Encouraged all concerned countries to support the Afghan people and contribute to a lasting peace settlement in the interest of all.
12. Welcomed the Chinese proposal to host the next intra- Afghan meeting in Beijing with the participation of a wide range of political figures of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, other Afghan leaders and the Taliban.
13. Noted the importance of current consultations with further involvement of other interested actors on the basis of the trilateral consensus agreed on April 25, 2019 in Moscow.
14. Expressed their appreciation to the Russian side for organizing the four- party consultations and agreed to settle the date and venue of the next meeting through diplomatic channels.
Khalilzad to Discuss Prisoner Exchange
Sources who met with the US envoy speculate that he is in Kabul to explore a possible exchange of insurgent prisoners for US hostages.
Some political figures who met with US Special Envoy for Peace Zalmay Khalilzad on Sunday believe that one of the main goals of Mr. Khalilzad’s trip to Kabul is to discuss the exchange of Taliban prisoners with two US university professors.
Khalilzad recently arrived in Kabul and those who visited him yesterday believe that Washington is seeking a resumption of peace talks with the Taliban and seeking the means to “open a space” between the US and the Taliban. These sources consider a possible exchange of the prisoner Anas Haqqani for two US university professors a potential solution.
“Our demand was, of course, that these prisoners should be exchanged and as long as these prisoners are not released it will intensify difficulties, and if we exchange the prisoners it will bring goodwill,” said Haji Din Mohammad, a High Peace Council deputy.
“Anas Haqqani and inmates similar to him are in Afghanistan prisons, they are not in Guantanamo Bay or any other prison outside the country, so Afghan law must be respected in their release,” said Fawozia Kofi, a political analyst.
On the other hand, the Afghan government said that Anas Haqqani is the killer of its citizens and is the “red line”:
“Anas Haqqani is the red line of the Afghan government and people. The Afghan people will not allow the Afghan government to release Anas Haqqani who is the killer of the Afghan people, and this decision is exclusively owned by the Afghan government and it is within the judgement of the Afghan government on how will deal with the Taliban prisoners,” said the Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi.
Khalilzad, however, had discussions with some of the country’s political figures on Sunday about resuming peace talks with the Taliban and how the talks between the Afghans could begin.
“Participants in the meeting with Mr. Khalilzad insisted that during the Taliban’s talks with the United States and inter-Afghan dialogue, violence should be decreased or a ceasefire should be maintained,” said Shahzada Massoud, a political analyst.