The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, on Tuesday briefed the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the country and said the direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban must begin as soon as possible.
He said the events of recent days and weeks have shown, more than ever, the urgency of finding a political settlement to the long Afghan conflict.
Efforts over the past year produced opportunities for peace, he said, adding that conflict can only be resolved by direct talks between Afghan people.
“These talks must be inclusive, representing the whole spectrum of Afghan society. It is imperative therefore that direct talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban commence as soon as possible,” the UN envoy said.
He said he has listened to many Afghan people from across the country who expressed their hopes and fears about the future. “They hope for an end to the conflict, but they also fear that peace might come at the sacrifice of freedom and rights which the country has striven to protect and advance for the past 18 years,” Mr. Yamamoto said.
He said any political settlement must include a promise to continue to protect and advance human rights and fundamental freedoms for all who live in Afghanistan, including those of women, youth, and minorities, as well as the freedom of expression and the media.
He said the recent informal talks between representatives from Afghan society and the Taliban in Moscow and Doha gave opportunities for dialogue to address some key issues needed for peace.
“I hope that this experience will be carried forward and help deepen dialogue for constructive outcomes,” the UN envoy said.
He said the United Nations stands ready to support an intra-Afghan process, drawing on our impartiality and expertise.
“I also wish to point out that peace efforts need to address and bring about a reduction in violence and eventual ceasefire,” he added.
According to Mr. Yamamoto, the support of the countries in the region and beyond remains critical and their active engagement and support to peace efforts will be essential going forward, particularly from neighboring countries who have most to gain from peace and stability in Afghanistan.