Tue, 04 Aug 2020

Kabul [Afghanistan], July 2 (ANI): Ambassadors of the European Union in Kabul are deeply concerned about the marked escalation of violence experienced throughout Afghanistan since the Eid-ceasefire and have called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

The EU Delegation in agreement with EU Heads of Mission based in Kabul said in a statement on Tuesday that the situation has further deteriorated since May 29 when the EU Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers declared the level of violence as "unacceptable".

"The attacks by the Taliban against Afghan National Defence and Security Forces are undermining the prospect for intra-Afghan Negotiations; this must end and a full-fledged ceasefire enter into force. Violence against civilians has also continued. It is a violation of international humanitarian law, which profoundly undermines the confidence and trust necessary for peace negotiations," read the statement posted on the official twitter page of EU in Afghanistan on June 30.

The Union also strongly condemned targeted killings, which have risen sharply in recent weeks, directed against clergy, journalists' and media workers, human rights defenders, healthcare personnel and others. "It appears to be a deliberate attempt to stifle debate in advance of peace negotiations. These crimes need to be investigated and the responsible brought to justice," it said.

One such attack is the cowardly assassination of two staff members of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission on 27 June 2020.

"The violence must stop now and an immediate humanitarian ceasefire put in place. A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire is a subsequent step that needs to accompany the Intra-Afghan Negotiations," the statement read.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is in Asia these days, travelling over to Islamabad, Tashkent and Doha, to garner support to meet the remaining commitments ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations which were initially set to commence on March 10, under the US-Taliban peace deal, but were pushed back due to disagreements over the mutual release of prisoners. The Taliban, in particular, demanded that Kabul free all 5,000 prisoners at once.

Last week, Khalilzad said that intra-Afghan talks are closer than ever, praising Kabul for freeing over 3,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban for releasing more than 500 government prisoners.

"Due to the challenges of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambassador Khalilzad, CEO Boehler and their delegation will also conduct meetings with Afghan officials throughout the trip remotely via video," the US State Department had said in a statement last week. (ANI)

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