Moscow: The extended “Troika” comprising representatives of Russia, China, the United States, and Pakistan, which met here on Thursday 18 March have urged all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to reduce the level of violence in the country and on the Taliban not to pursue a Spring offensive, so as to avoid further casualties and to create an environment conducive to reaching a negotiated political settlement.
Moscow hosted the regular meeting of the extended “Troika” that focused on making progress in the intra-Afghan process to reach a negotiated settlement and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
In his opening remarks, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov said that the situation is all the more alarming against the backdrop of the approaching spring and summer when combat activities are traditionally invigorated. “To my knowledge, the signs of this are already there”, he observed while expressing regret that efforts to launch a political process in Doha had not produced the “desired effect”.
The event was also attended by representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, prominent Afghan political figures, and representatives of the Taliban movement, as well as Qatar and Turkey as guests of honor.
Rolling the agenda for the meeting, the Russian Foreign Minister said, it is particularly alarming that the radical terrorist groups, primarily the Islamic State (ISIS), are trying to use the current situation to strengthen their positions “on the ground.” In our estimate, ISIS has not given up its attempts to entrench itself deeper in northern Afghanistan with a view to extrapolating their plans to Central Asia. All this creates the prerequisites for the further flourishing of drug trafficking that is a serious challenge to Afghanistan, the region and the rest of the world, and is a major source of funding for terrorist activities.
In the spirit of the discussions, as well as provisions of joint statements on the outcomes of previous “Troika” meetings held on March 22, April 25, July 11, and October 25, 2019, and online conferences held on June 3 and November 30, 2020, the four states participating in the extended “Troika” have:
- Acknowledged the widespread and sincere demand of the Afghan people for a lasting and just peace and an end to the war and confirm that a sustainable peace can only be achieved through a negotiated political settlement.
- Called on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to reduce the level of violence in the country and on the Taliban not to pursue a Spring offensive, so as to avoid further casualties and to create an environment conducive to reaching a negotiated political settlement.
- As stated in the UNSC resolution 2513 (2020), said they do not support the restoration of the Islamic Emirate and called on the Government of the Islamic Republic and the High Council for National Reconciliation to engage openly with their Taliban counterparts regarding a negotiated settlement.
- Urged participants in the intra-Afghan negotiations to engage immediately in discussions on fundamental issues to resolve the conflict, including the foundations of the future peaceful and stable Afghan state, the content of a political roadmap leading to an inclusive government, and the modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. At this pivotal moment, the four States have also called on the parties to negotiate and conclude a peace agreement that will bring an end to over four decades of war in Afghanistan.
- Strongly advocated a durable and just political resolution that will result in the formation of an independent, sovereign, unified, peaceful, democratic, and self-sufficient Afghanistan, free of terrorism and an illicit drug industry, which contributes to the creation of pull factors for the voluntary, sustainable, and expeditious return of Afghan refugees; stability; and global security.
- Called on all Afghans, including the Government of the Islamic Republic and the Taliban, to ensure that terrorist groups and individuals do not use Afghan soil to threaten the security of any other country.
- Have reaffirmed that any peace agreement must include protections for the rights of all Afghans, including women, men, children, victims of war, and minorities, and should respond to the strong desire of all Afghans for economic, social and political development including the rule of law.
- Encouraged all concerned countries to support the Afghan people and contribute to a lasting peace in the interest of all. We reaffirm our commitment to mobilize international political and economic support for a post-political settlement Afghanistan.
- Appreciated the long-standing support of the State of Qatar to facilitate the peace process, and we support the continuation of discussions between the parties’ negotiating teams in Doha, which began in September 2020 and which have resulted in meaningful progress toward a political settlement.
- Recognised and welcomed all international efforts that are underway to facilitate and support a negotiated settlement as soon as possible. We note that the UN Secretary General Guterres’ appointment of Mr. Jean Arnault as his personal envoy on Afghanistan and regional issues.
The extended Troika has welcomed the UN playing a positive and constructive role on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.