Pierre Mayaudon, the European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Afghanistan on Sunday called on the Taliban to take advantage of the peace opportunity and enter into dialogue with the Afghan government to end the ongoing bloodbath in the country.
This comes on the eve of the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan initiative to hold a peace conference titled "Afghanistan – path to a peaceful future" in the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Monday.
Meanwhile, officials from Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) have said that the two day Tashkent peace conference will be attended by high ranking officials from regional and ultra-regional countries where they will press the Taliban and their backers to join the peace process.
“More pressure is expected to be mounted on the Taliban at this conference so that the group enters into dialogue. Afghan-owned peace process will be getting more support at the conference,” HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri said.
According to the EU envoy, at the summit, the EU will once again call on the Taliban to respond positively to the peace offer recently made by the Afghan government.
“No doubt about it, I think there are two or three aspects regarding the Tashkent conference which indeed takes place tomorrow and the day after. I think first it is an important development following Kabul II conference that took place here on 28 of February,” said Mayaudon.
High-ranking officials are expected to attend the Tashkent meeting including UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres and the UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, as well as the foreign ministers of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, uzdaily.com reported.
In a question about Taliban’s Qatar office Mayaudon said: “This question comes time and again, I think it is important to have a channel for engagement, for discussion, this Qatar office has to prove that it is useful, that it is relevant as a channel for exchanging opinions, messages in relation with the crisis. If the Qatar office fulfills these objectives fine, if it doesn’t, it is an issue.”
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and his Afghan counterpart President Ashraf Ghani will open the international conference on Afghanistan.
“US holds the key for peace in Afghanistan, peace can be restored in Afghanistan if the US really want it, US must put pressure on Pakistan to press the Taliban to come to the negotiating table,” said MP Shekiba Hashimi.
Meanwhile a member of Afghanistan’s senate Safiullah Hashimi said: “Central Asian countries have a common pain from terrorism, they will honestly contribute in the peace process for Afghanistan at the conference.”
This comes on the heels of the recent Kabul Process meeting where Afghan President Ashraf Ghani laid out a detailed peace offer to the Taliban.
The conference will be summed up by a Tashkent Declaration, that will reflect the main points of the discussion.
Uzbekistan hosted the first peace conference on Afghanistan in 1999.