UN chief welcomes start of negotiations between Afghan gov't and Taliban


Photo taken on Aug. 14, 2020 shows released Taliban prisoners in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan.  (File photo: Xinhua)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday welcomed the start of negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

"The start of intra-Afghan peace negotiations today in Doha between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban presents a major opportunity to achieve the long-held aspirations of the people of Afghanistan for peace," he said in a video message.

Afghans themselves must determine the content and nature of the negotiations. An inclusive peace process, in which women, youth and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented, offers the best hope of a sustainable solution, he said.

All parties must do their part to ensure that women participate in a variety of roles, and that the peace process reflects the experiences and expertise of Afghan women in all their diversity.

"I have been encouraged by the two cease-fires this year. As the negotiations commence, I urge the redoubling of efforts to protect civilians and to de-escalate the conflict, in order to save lives and to create a conducive environment for the talks. It is my hope that progress toward peace can lead to the return of millions of Afghans displaced internally and across borders, to their homes in a safe, dignified and orderly manner," said Guterres.

It is of crucial importance that all Afghan leaders and members of the international community do everything possible to make peace a reality, he said, pledging the readiness of the United Nations to support the process of intra-Afghan peace negotiations and the sustainable development of the country.