Peace talks with no preconditions a necessity for Afghanistan’s future, says UN envoy
NEW YORK - The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan called on the international community and all Afghans, including the Taliban, to back a peace process to end the suffering of the Afghan people.
“It takes courage to enter into a peace process,” stressed Tadamichi Yamamoto, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). “It is not an admission of defeat; it is a recognition of reality,” as an “endless war ruins the country.”
The only path to a meaningful peace, he said, is by Afghans talking directly with Afghans. Mr. Yamamoto urged all parties to the longstanding conflict to identify common interests, and asked for the Taliban to participate in sincere peace talks “without preconditions.”
In his briefing to the UN Security Council, Mr. Yamamoto underscored the urgency of his message by noting that an unprecedented number of Afghans have been displaced this year, with continued fighting taking a devastating toll on civilians.
“In 2016, thousands and thousands of Afghans have been killed in the conflict, and tens of thousands more were wounded,” he said, noting that a better future for Afghanistan is not possible without peace.
“At stake is the future of the Afghan people and the country,” he stressed, imploring the warring parties to come to the table by asking them to consider the human toll of conflict and answer the question: “Is compromise and accommodation really not possible?”
While outlining the dire situation Afghans face, Mr. Yamamoto spoke optimistically about the international will to back Afghanistan’s development. He said he saw “hope in Afghanistan” after key donor conferences in Brussels and Warsaw, and commended the Afghan government for advancing its reform agenda and improving public services.
In closing, the Special Representative outlined steps that could be taken by the government and anti-government elements to move the peace process forward, including through the added participation of women to help shape a lasting peace.
While emphasizing the importance of intra-Afghan dialogue, the Special Representative informed the Security Council that international support remains imperative.
“I am encouraged by the positive messages of support of the regional countries for an Afghan-led peace process, and I look forward to these messages showing positive results,” he said. “I call upon each country of the region to ask itself what more it can do to help create an environment conducive to peace in Afghanistan and the region.”