ISLAMABAD: Four countries in the region have called on Afghan groups to agree to a ceasefire, start peace talks as soon as possible and take decisive action against terrorist groups on their soil.
The demand was made in a joint statement issued after a 'virtual' meeting of delegates from Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and China on the current situation in Afghanistan and issues facing the peace process.
The meeting called on all Afghan groups and parties, including the Taliban, to act on the opportunities of the inter-Afghan dialogue as soon as possible, the statement said.
The meeting was held on May 18 and the joint statement said that all the four participating countries would issue a declaration on the same day.
However, a statement was issued by Pakistan yesterday after observers pointed out that the statement had not been issued.
Stressing on cooperation for intra-Afghan talks, the four countries, which have a common interest in peace in Afghanistan, said that dialogue between Afghan groups was the only way to reach a national settlement that could end the long-running conflict immediately.
It may be recalled that a peace agreement was signed between the US and the Taliban on February 29 in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in which it was agreed that the Afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the release of 1,000 Taliban prisoners.
The prisoner exchange was due to be completed before March 10, when talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were to begin, but the process has been slow due to a number of issues.
However, the recent wave of violence in Afghanistan has further complicated the issue, some of which can be attributed to ISIS, including the May 12 attack on a maternity hospital.
After Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered the resumption of offensive operations against the Taliban, the Taliban said in response to the Afghan government's announcement that they were fully prepared to respond to attacks by Afghan forces.
The Taliban had said that from now on, the responsibility for further tensions would fall on the shoulders of the Kabul administration.
Two days ago, the Taliban reiterated their demand for the implementation of the Doha Agreement.
The release of prisoners should be completed and intra-Afghan talks should begin.
However, the Taliban attacked Kunduz that night, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said, adding that the attack was foiled and the Taliban suffered heavy losses.
The meeting called for an immediate ceasefire, and a statement called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to support a global ceasefire.
And a comprehensive ceasefire was called for across Afghanistan, which was agreed upon by all parties.
The four countries called on the Afghan government and other groups to neutralize the threat posed by terrorist groups in Afghanistan and to end drug trafficking.
The statement specifically named the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has been carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan from Afghan soil.
Due to the serious threat of terrorism in Afghanistan, all parties have joined Al Qaeda, ISIL, ETIM,
He called for decisive action against the TTP and other international terrorist organizations active in the region and called for a complete end to drug production and sale in the country.