Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Presidential Palace, on Monday said that the Taliban “must” accept a ceasefire ahead of any peace talks, adding that “without a ceasefire, there would be no peace talks.”
“Without a ceasefire, we will not reach a long-lasting peace, a peace with dignity. And a reduction of violence is not practical,” said Sediqqi.
But the Taliban have prepared a plan for the reduction of violence and “are not ready to announce any ceasefire before the peace talks with the Afghan government,” said a source close to the peace talks.
Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a university professor, said: “They (the Taliban) say that issues around a ceasefire will be at the top of the agenda of intra-Afghan negotiations.”
The government is insisting on a ceasefire but if the Taliban does not accept it, what will be the outcome?
Presumably referring to the new demand of the Afghan government, Haji Din Mohammad, the head of the Peace and Development Party, said: “A ceasefire should not be used as an excuse to challenge peace or continue the bloodshed in the country.”
NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Kay said he feels “optimistic” and hopes that the peace talks between the US and Taliban will move forward and pave the way for intra-Afghan talks. He said he thinks a “strong regional consensus has been building over the last year” for support of the peace process, and that “security forces are stronger than they have been before.”
A source with knowledge of the peace talks said that the US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been in Qatar over the past week and has held an informal meeting with the Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar. The source added that Khalilzad will visit Kabul soon to share the Taliban’s plan for the reduction of violence with Afghan government leaders.