Diplomats urge Taliban to halt Afghan offensive

Published : July 20, 2021 13:44 IST

Doha talks between Afghan officials and the Taliban political leadership failed to produce a ceasefire agreement. Photo: Media office of Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation

Fifteen diplomatic missions in Afghanistan are calling for a ceasefire amid a major Taliban offensive, which appears to be gaining momentum.

No fewer than 15 diplomatic missions, along with NATO's representative in Afghanistan, are urging the Taliban to halt an ongoing offensive. The call comes after high-level talks failed to reach a cease-fire agreement. Talks took place in the Qatari capital, Doha, and were attended by a delegation of Afghan leaders and the Taliban's political leadership.

What are the diplomatic missions saying?

"The Taliban's offensive is in direct contradiction to their claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict and to the Doha peace process," the statement said.

"This Eid al-Adha [Festival of the Sacrifice], the Taliban should lay down their weapons for good and show the world their commitment to the peace process," it read.

The statement has the backing of the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany and France, among other governments.

The Taliban continues to make gains

The Taliban have not wasted any time and have made significant territorial gains as the official deadline for the end of U.S.-led military operations draws near.

On July 19 the militant group claimed to have taken Dehrawood district in Uruzgan province, southwest of Kabul. It has also captured all 17 of Herat province's districts, while Herat City is currently under siege.

What is expected to happen next?

The Afghan delegation and the Taliban's political leadership say they will meet again following the Doha talks. There was also an agreement that the warring parties would not harm public infrastructure. President Joe Biden has said the U.S.'s 20-year military mission will formally end by August 31.

kb/msh (dpa, Reuters)