Foreign missions in Kabul issue joint call for Taliban ceasefire

Fifteen diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Kabul have joined hands to urge the Taliban to halt military offensives across Afghanistan, just hours after a peace meeting in Doha failed to agree on a ceasefire. 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 to Afghanistan’s rising violence.

After two days of talks in the Qatari capital, the sides said they agreed on the need to reach a “just solution” and to meet again “next week”. According to a press release, the statement was supported by Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Union delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the United States and NATO’s senior civilian representative. Over the last few Eid holidays, the Taliban has called temporary ceasefires, saying it wanted to let Afghans spend them in peace. However, this time there has been no such announcement for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, which begins in Afghanistan on July 20, as the Taliban makes swift territorial gains in near-unprecedented levels of fighting nationwide.

The group has been emboldened as foreign forces near a complete withdrawal after 20 years of fighting, cutting a huge swathe across the country, capturing hundreds of districts, seizing key border crossings and encircling provincial capitals. Monday’s statement by the 15 missions also condemned rights violations, such as efforts to shut schools and media outfits reported by media in areas recently captured by the Taliban, which has previously denied such assertions.