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September 17, 2018
The Kabul Times

Intra-Afghan dialogue key to lasting peace

The complexity of global and regional security threats and their convergence in Afghanistan has begun to seriously worry regional and extra-regional stakeholders. Some of these actors have called for stepping up efforts to reinvigorate Afghanistan’s stalled peace process.
The Afghan government welcomes any genuine efforts by its immediate and near neighbors, which help put an end to years of imposed war and violence in Afghanistan that daily claim innocent Afghan lives in their cities and villages. But it should be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Peace Process, wheresuccess in this endeavor will not only stabilizeAfghanistan but will also ensure regional security.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Thursday objected to Moscow’s proposed talks on Afghanistan said that any talks for peace should be carried out under the leadership of the Afghan government and the people.
In a statement issued on Thursday, MoFA said that although it appreciates the efforts by Russia for peace in Afghanistan, it stated that the Afghan government expects its regional and international partners to pave the way for intra-Afghan dialogue. 
“Afghanistan will not attend a meeting where there is no commitment by the Taliban to enter direct talks with the government. The government would attend talks with Taliban at any location but that these would have to be direct talks,” MoFA’s statement read. 
According to the statement, the Taliban has defied the goodwill gesture of the Afghan government for peace and stated that participation of the group at the Moscow talks would not hold any importance while it rejects regional and international principles for peace. 
The National Unity Government (NUG) is the legitimate, elected government of Afghanistan — representing all Afghans with equal rights under the country’s progressive constitution. The NUG enjoys the support of the Afghan people, who remain a strategic asset in the fight against terrorism and extremism. That is why the Taliban lack the national and moral legitimacy to represent the Afghan people, who reject terrorism perpetrated by the Taliban and their foreign terrorist allied networks in the name of Islam — a religion of peace, tolerance and coexistence.
The Afghan government firmly believes in peace and has made every effort to reach reconciliation with those armed groups, which have demonstrated a genuine willingness to renounce violence, cut ties with terrorist networks and state-sponsors of terrorism, and opt for peace through a result-driven dialogue. In this regard, the Afghan government reached a successful political settlement with Hezb-e-Islami, through an intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiation process, which took place in Kabul.
Indeed, this is a clear example of the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and how Afghans can proceed ahead. The Afghan government appreciates all regional and international efforts for peace in Afghanistan but asks all the stakeholders to respect the sovereignty of Afghanistanand pave the way for intra-Afghan dialogues.
Attending meetings where there would be no commitment by the armed groups, would not have any impact on the ongoing war and would also undermine regional efforts for peace. Therefore, it is essential to consider Afghanistan’s key role in all such meetings, as Afghan-led and own process is key to lasting peace in the country.

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