Foreign diplomats in Kabul plea Taliban ceasefire

Photo: EPA

Fifteen diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Kabul joined forces on Monday to urge the Taliban to halt military offensives across Afghanistan, news wires reported. The plea came just hours after a peace meeting in Doha failed to agree on a ceasefire, according to Reuters.

"This Eid al-Adha, the Taliban should lay down their weapons for good and show the world their commitment to the peace process," the statement said, referring to Tuesday's Muslim holiday. A senior delegation of Afghan leaders met the Taliban's political leadership in the Qatari capital over the last two days, but a Taliban statement issued late on Sunday made no mention of a halt.

The joint statement was supported by Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the EU delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the US and NATO's senior civilian representative. The statement also condemned rights violations, such as efforts to shut schools and media outfits in areas recently captured by the Taliban.

Over the last few Eid holidays, the Taliban have called temporary ceasefires, saying they wanted to let Afghans spend them in peace. This time there has been no such announcement, as the Taliban make swift territorial gains in near-unprecedented levels of fighting nationwide. The insurgents have been emboldened as foreign forces near a complete withdrawal after 20 years of fighting.

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