China, Pakistan, Russia and the US were among the nine nations that participated in a virtual discussion convened by the UN Secretariat on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan.
The discussions on Thursday focused on a “comprehensive peace process in Afghanistan through intra-Afghan negotiations and on the importance of regional cooperation in support to Afghanistan”, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, said.
“The UN Secretariat convened a discussion with Member States on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan. Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United States and Uzbekistan all participated in this meeting, which was held virtually,” Dujarric said at his daily press briefing on Thursday.
He said the format brought together Afghanistan, its six neighbouring countries, Russia and the US “in recognition of the importance of the region to Afghanistan’s stability and sustainable development”.
Dujarric said participants at the meeting expressed solidarity with Afghanistan in its quest for peace, security and prosperity and echoed Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s call for a comprehensive ceasefire, especially in the wake of the urgent need to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
“The United Nations stands ready to deliver life saving assistance to people in need and is committed to the peaceful development of Afghanistan,” he said.
Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban hit a roadblock earlier this month after the warring parties failed to finalise the terms of a prisoner swap, agreed to by the militants with the US in February.
The US-Taliban deal did not involve the Afghanistan government.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has refused to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners under the terms of the peace deal, saying that his government had made no such agreement. Instead, he offered conditional release of 1,500 prisoners.
Taliban leaders met with US negotiators in Doha last week and agreed to free 20 Afghan administration officials.
Though, the Afghan government released a total of 200 Taliban prisoners earlier this month, the militant group walked away from the exchange process, saying its demand on who was to be released first was not met.
The peace deal aims at ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan.
Under the agreement, 5,000 US troops would leave the country by May. The US and NATO troops will withdraw from the country within 14 months, as long as the Taliban uphold their side of the deal.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries.
The US also agreed to lift sanctions against the Taliban and work with the UN to lift its separate sanctions against the group.
In return, the Taliban said they would not allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.