NATO Afghan Envoy: The Time For Peace Is Now

Nato’s top civilian representative in Afghanistan has urged the Taliban to come to the negotiating table, saying an unprecedented ceasefire in June shows that the group can win political recognition and bring an end to the group’s 17-year conflict with the government and western forces.

In an exclusive interview with The National, Ambassador Cornelius Zimmermann, the military alliance’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, said there is a genuine chance of peace, given a sweeping desire among ordinary Afghans for an end to fighting.

The three-day Eid truce in June opened up the potential for political acceptance of the Taliban, once thought highly improbable, he said, and consequently the insurgents and other parties must capitalise on this.

“There is an overwhelming and universal demand for peace among the Afghan public. Afghans have suffered enough and the ceasefire showed that peace is possible,” he said.

“Now, the Taliban must show that they are genuinely willing to play their part to ensure lasting peace and security for the benefit of all Afghans.

“They must understand that they cannot win on the battlefield, but that they can gain a place in Afghan society and politics at the negotiating table.”

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