US-Taliban deal first step to Afghanistan peace process, says European Union

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 29, 2020, 09.32 PM(IST)

Afghanistan rejoice as US-Taliban sign peace deal Photograph:( Reuters )

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Saudi Arabia also welcomed the peace agreement.

The European Union described the historic peace deal between the US and the Taliban, and a separate US-Afghanistan declaration, as  "important first steps towards a comprehensive peace process" in Afghanistan.

Reacting to the official signing, EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that "the current opportunity to move towards peace should not be missed" and the bloc expected "Afghan-owned and Afghan-led negotiations to start without delay in an inclusive manner and aiming at a lasting peace".

Borrell also said the EU stood ready to help with an Afghan peace process in which "all political factions, where notably Afghan women and minorities as well as the civil society, are represented in a meaningful manner".

"It is vital that all people of Afghanistan feel represented in the next government and in peace negotiations. This would help address grievances, including in the context of the recent electoral process, and promote reconciliation," he added.

The United States signed a deal with Taliban insurgents on Saturday that could pave the way toward a full withdrawal of foreign soldiers from Afghanistan over the next 14 months and represent a step toward ending the 18-year-war in the nation.

While the agreement creates a path for the United States to gradually pull out of its longest war, many expect the talks to come between the Afghan sides may be much more complicated.

There are hopes it will put an end to nearly two decades of conflict in Afghanistan, where US-led forces have propped up the government in Kabul in the face of an unceasing Taliban insurgency.

To achieve peace, though, the accord will have to lead to intra-Afghan talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The Afghan government was not directly involved in the negotiations resulting in Saturday's deal signed in Doha. But US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was in Kabul to make a joint declaration with the government.

Saudi Arabia also welcomed the peace agreement.

In a statement, the foreign ministry hoped that the deal would lead to a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and nationwide peace in Afghanistan.

(With inputs from agencies)