NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday presented the organization’s annual report in Brussels and said the National Unity Government’s (NUG) peace offer is the clearest invitation to the Taliban and that they should make use of the opportunity.
Stoltenberg said Taliban cannot win on the battlefields and that accepting the NUG peace offer is the best option to end the Afghan war.
“I commend President (Ashraf) Ghani for his courageous leadership. His offer to the Taliban is the clearest invitation to peace yet. So I call on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.
There is an opportunity - now - to end the conflict. And build a more secure and prosperous Afghanistan. An opportunity that must be seized,” Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg said they will continue their military pressure on the Taliban to prevent them reaching any strategic goal. He said as a result of military pressure, Taliban were unable to take control of even one provincial capital in 2017.
Stoltenberg said neither Taliban nor other insurgent groups can win on the battlefields.
“With our assistance, Afghan forces have increased military pressure on the Taliban. Ensuring they did not achieve their strategic objective of capturing a provincial capital in 2017,” Stoltenberg said.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) also on Thursday issued a statement in which they asked the Taliban to accept the Afghan government’s peace offer.
The UNSC asked Taliban to sit in negotiations with the Afghan government to end the war and violence in the country.
The High Peace Council (HPC) however said since the announcement of the peace offer to Taliban by Ghani at the second Kabul Process meeting, they have made some progress.
“Following the announcement of the peace offer by President Ghani, we have witnessed good progress. We are in the first stage and do not want to announce (the progress). We hope that by the new (solar) year, we will peace negotiations with the Taliban,” HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Taheri said.
The US Department of Defense meanwhile asked Pakistan to take serious anti-terror actions in the region. According to the department, Pakistan should be playing a role in counterterrorism in the region.
“The secretary has said there is more that Pakistan could do and we look forward to them taking some steps to combat terrorism in the region,” Dana White, Department of Defense spokeswoman said.
Three weeks ago Ghani made an offer to the Taliban, but to date, the group has not responded.