NATO urges Taliban to lay down arms, engage in talks

Jun 9, 2018
NATO's Secretary General on Thursday called on the Taliban militant insurgent group to lay down their arms and engage in dialogue with the Afghan government coordinator as part of a ceasefire plan in the war-torn nation.
Jens Stoltenberg was addressing the press in Brussels just hours after Afghan president Ashraf Ghani announced that a temporary ceasefire had been struck with the armed group involved in the ongoing conflict in the Central Asian nation, Efe reported.
"The only way for them to achieve a solution is to sit down at the negotiating table, and therefore we will continue to provide support and I call on the Taliban to join the ceasefire and lay down their arms and engage in a constructive dialog to a find a peaceful negotiated solution," Stoltenberg said of the news at the beginning of a European Defense Minister meeting in the Belgian capital. 
He described the move as a positive step towards peace and said the Alliance would support a reconciliation process led by Afghans themselves. 
Ghani's announcement, which comes after an ambitious offer of peace in February to the Taliban that included their political recognition and the release of prisoners, comes after a fatwa or religious edict in which the Taliban were urged to put an end to the conflict.
In the fatwa, described as historic by Ghani on Thursday, some 2,000 religious leaders claimed that the war in Afghanistan is illegal and has no religious justification.
The conflict in Afghanistan remains in a stagnant situation following the end of NATO's military mission in the country in early 2015 which initially helped the Taliban make military advances territorially.
The government controls about 56 per cent of the territory, while the Taliban control around 11 per cent, according to data from the US.

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