NATO backs Afghan peace offer to Taliban insurgents

NATO is backing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of peace talks to the Taliban, embracing what top officials say is an “unprecedented” opportunity to end the fighting in the insurgency-wracked country.

In a statement Friday, NATO foreign ministers said the 29 allies “are united in their support for this proposal,” and that they would respect a political settlement that ends violence.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani has offered the Taliban unconditional peace talks accompanied by a cease-fire, recognition of them as a political party and the release of some prisoners, among other incentives.

As the Afghan Government of National Unity takes steps to uphold stability and security, and to promote peace, NATO reaffirms its commitment to the development of the Afghan security and defence forces through a conditions-based approach for our Resolute Support Mission. We recognize and highly appreciate the essential contributions that the men and women in uniform from Allied nations, and from our Resolute Support Mission (RSM) operational partners, have provided over many years of NATO presence in Afghanistan. NATO foreign ministers said.

“We urge the Taliban to respond favorably to this opportunity and participate in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. The responsibility to bring an end to a long era of conflict is now in the Taliban’s hands.” Statement added.

NATO also welcomes the support for this proposal that was provided by countries within the region at the 27 March Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan.

Regional actors have a significant role to play in support of peace and stabilization in Afghanistan. Pakistan facilitates important logistical supply lines for the Resolute Support Mission.

“We believe Pakistan’s role will be important to a peace process, including in encouraging the Taliban to change their calculus. We encourage Pakistan to act on its stated support for a political solution to the Afghan conflict, to close terrorist sanctuaries and to work to prevent terrorist financial flows and cross-border attacks, including by working with its neighbors.” NATO MF statement added.