US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has given suggestions to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to accelerate the peace process.
According to Afghan media, Secretary Blinken wrote a letter to President Ghani and suggested convening a UN-facilitated conference with international stakeholders, to facilitate discussion between the Afghan government and the Taliban to a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, a meeting in Turkey between both sides to finalise a peace agreement, and a revised proposal for a 90-day reduction in violence.
However, along with the suggestions, Blinken said that the United States is considering all options regarding Afghanistan, including the May 1 deadline for full withdrawal.
The letter is reportedly similar to one shared with Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
Blinken wrote that he suggests that the UN should convene a meeting of foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the US to discuss a unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad should share with President Ghani and the Taliban leaders written proposals “aimed at accelerating discussions on a negotiated settlement and ceasefire.
He wrote that these proposals reflect some of the ideas included in the roadmap for the peace process. He elaborated that the suggestions are not a dictation to the parties…. “Rather the documents will enable the Islamic Republic and the Taliban to move urgently to the tasks of developing a) the foundational principles that will guide Afghanistan’s future constitutional and governing arrangements b) a roadmap to a new, inclusive government and c) the terms of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”
Blinken said Turkey will be asked to host a meeting of both sides to finalise a peace agreement. He urges Ghani that he or his representative should attend the meeting.
The secretary writes that the US has prepared a revised proposal for a 90-day reduction in violence, “which is intended to prevent a spring offensive by the Taliban and to coincide with our diplomatic efforts to support a political settlement between the two parties.”
He asked President Ghani to “positively consider” the proposal for the reduction in violence.
“I must also make clear to you Mr. President, that as our policy process continues in Washington, the United States has not ruled out any option. We are considering the full withdrawal of our forces by May 1st, as we consider other options,” he writes.
Blinken writes that even with the continuation of the US financial assistance to Afghan forces after withdrawal, he is “concerned that the security situation will worsen and that the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains” and that he shares this so that President Ghani “understands the urgency of my tone regarding the collective work outlined in this letter.”