Khalilzad Says US Stands with Afghans

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday welcomed the announcements by the Afghan government and the Taliban to observe an Eid ceasefire, and said “violence has been horrific in recent weeks, and the Afghan people have paid the price,” reiterating that the United States stands with the people of Afghanistan.

Khalilzad said that Afghans need “a political settlement and a permanent ceasefire.”

He called for accelerated negotiations among Afghans on a political settlement and “an end to this senseless war.

“This is what the Afghan people yearn for,” he added.

Khalilzad also in an interview with Der Spiegel published on Monday has said that the Afghan people are longing for peace and that there has to be peace and there is no better alternative.

“The Taliban spoke to the US and the European group in Berlin this week by video. They said they don’t see a military solution and say that the only option is a political one. Both sides have to be realistic about finding common ground. If there is no peace agreement, the alternative is not a Taliban victory. It is a long war,” he said in the interview.

On Monday, President Ashraf Ghani in a statement instructed all Afghan forces to observe the ceasefire during three days of Eid, but he reiterated that the Taliban’s violence has no legitimacy as international troops are leaving the country.

Ghani stated that the government is aware of the announcement of the ceasefire by the Taliban, but he did not welcome it or otherwise acknowledge the gesture in his remarks.

Ghani said the Afghan government and the Afghan people’s demand is a permanent and real ceasefire.

He said that the Taliban in the last few weeks might have learned that their calculation of winning militarily and in face-to-face fights against the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces is wrong.

He once again called on the Taliban to respond to the people’s demand for ceasefire and return to the negotiating table.

The Taliban in a statement announced a three-day ceasefire during the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr, following a surge of violence that comes on the heels of the foreign troops’ withdrawal from the country.

The statement says that all Taliban fighters have been instructed to stop all kinds of offensive operations across the country from the first to the third day of Eid-ul-Fitr.

The statement added that Taliban fighters have been told that if they are attacked “by the enemy” during these three days, they should protect and defend themselves.

The fighters have also been asked to avoid any attempt to enter territories under the Afghan government’s control and also they should not allow any members of Afghan forces to enter their territories.

This comes as violence has been on the rise since the start of this month.

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