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Tuesday Oct 27 2020
Web Desk

'Disappointed' Khalilzad says regional spoilers using Afghans as cannon fodder

Web Desk
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan November 18, 2018. — Reuters/Files

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has warned all stakeholders in Afghanistan to seize the opportunity to bring about political stability in the country while it was still possible to do so. 

"I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever," Khalilzad lamented.

The US special representative said that intransigence and a refusal to abandon animosity, embrace fellow citizens, and agree on a formula for political cooperation underpin the ongoing war.

"Afghans are dying at a high rate, and regional spoilers are using Afghans as cannon fodder for their illegitimate objectives," Khalilzad said, as he demanded an end to the bloodshed.

"Afghans need to pivot to development instead of destruction, stability instead of chaos, forgiveness instead of vengeance, compromise instead of inflexibility," he added.

Meanwhile, the US Department of State said Khalilzad would meet negotiating teams to follow up on ongoing discussions in Doha.

"The sides urgently need an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire," the statement said.

Violence has raged across Afghanistan in recent weeks even as the Taliban and Afghan government remain engaged in peace talks to end the country's long-running conflict.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report released on Tuesday that the number of civilians killed and wounded has failed to slow since the start of peace talks on September 12.

"The peace talks will need some time to help deliver peace," UNAMA chief Deborah Lyons said in the report.

"But all parties can immediately prioritise discussions and take urgent, and frankly overdue, additional steps to stem the terrible harm to civilians."

UNAMA, however, said that the overall civilian casualty figure had dropped by around 30% in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the corresponding period last year.

— Additional input from AFP