Representatives of the United States (US), China, and Russia reached an 8-point consensus during meetings in Moscow last week on the Afghan peace process.
In a joint statement following the Trilateral Meeting on the Afghan Peace Process, the three parties agreed on the following.
- The three sides respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan as well as its right to choose its development path. The three sides prioritize the interests of the Afghan people in promoting a peace process.
- The three sides support an inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process and are ready to provide necessary assistance. The three sides encourage the Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks with a broad, representative Afghan delegation that includes the government as soon as possible. Toward this end, and as agreed in Moscow in February 2019, we support a second round of intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha (Qatar).
- The three sides support the Afghan government efforts to combat international terrorism and extremist organizations in Afghanistan. They take note of the Afghan Taliban’s commitment to: fight ISIS and cut ties with Al-Qaeda, ETIM, and other international terrorist groups; ensure the areas they control will not be used to threaten any other country; and call on them to prevent terrorist recruiting, training, and fundraising, and expel any known terrorists.
- The three sides recognize the Afghan people’s strong desire for a comprehensive ceasefire. As a first step, we call on all parties to agree on immediate and concrete steps to reduce violence.
- The three sides stress the importance of fighting illegal drug production and trafficking, and call on the Afghan government and the Taliban to take all the necessary steps to eliminate the drug threat in Afghanistan.
- The three sides call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process.
- The three sides call for regional countries to support this trilateral consensus and are ready to build a more extensive regional and international consensus on Afghanistan.
- The three sides agreed on a phased expansion of their consultations before the next trilateral meeting in Beijing. The date and composition of the meeting will be agreed upon through diplomatic channels.
As People’s Pundit Daily (PPD) reported, the Trump Administration is committed to withdrawing forces from Afghanistan to end more than 17 years of war.
Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is in the middle of a trip that began April 21 and ends May 11. It includes stops in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
In January, U.S. and Taliban officials touted “significant progress” in peace talks in Qatar over a proposed ceasefire and troop pullout.
But in a setback, the Taliban recently announced a plan for a spring offensive, and continue to stage near-daily attacks against the Afghan government and security forces. It was followed by reports of civilian casualties in the middle of the trip aiming to promote the Afghan peace process.
“We deeply regret any loss of innocent life during military operations. We never target innocents,” Special Representative Khalilzad tweeted. “War is treacherous & unintended consequences are devastating.”
“While we strive to prevent casualties, real solution is a ceasefire or reduced violence as we pursue lasting peace.”
While Special Representative Khalilzad works to build international support for the Afghan peace process, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met Friday in Washington with Kazakhstani Presidential Special Envoy and National Security Committee Chairman Karim Masimov to build regional support.
The largest divide remains over the proposed ceasefire, which the Taliban has resisted. In Doha, Special Representative Khalilzad will reenter negotiations with the Taliban and urge their participation in intra-Afghan dialogue.
The longest war in U.S. history began almost immediately after the Islamic terror attacks on September 11, 2001. President Donald Trump has long-criticized continued U.S. involvement, and as a candidate campaigned on prioritizing illicit drug trades over foreign intervention.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani opposes a U.S. withdrawal, blaming the Russian withdrawal on May 15, 1988 for the civil war.
Nevertheless, after more than 17 years – deploying at peak more than 100,000 troops, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,400 U.S. soldiers, spending more than $1 trillion on military operations, more than $100 billion on “nation-building,” or funding and training an army of 350,000 Afghan soldiers – the Taliban still controls nearly half of Afghanistan.
As was exclusively reported by People’s Pundit Daily (PPD), opium production in Afghanistan has never been more robust than it is now. The most recent annual opium survey revealed a record high 9,000 metric tons produced for the year, rising 87% compared with 2016.