United Nations, July 1 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) has pushed for an early start of the peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
In a statement on Tuesday, UNSC members welcomed steps taken so far by the two sides to move toward the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, most notably the partial implementation of commitments to release prisoners, facilitated through direct talks between them, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Council members called for the rapid release of remaining prisoners in the coming days and for efforts to reduce violence in order to encourage a swift start to intra-Afghan negotiations.
They welcomed the political agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah that ended the political impasse stemming from last year's presidential election, and expressed the hope that it will pave the way for timely intra-Afghan negotiations.
The members expressed concern over the recent increase in violence, which continues to take the lives of innocent civilians.
They stressed that any attack targeting civilians, hospitals, medical and humanitarian personnel and facilities is unacceptable and that the perpetrators must be held accountable.
They expressed their serious concern over the presence of the Islamic State and other international terrorist groups in Afghanistan and over the significant increase in the cultivation, production, trade and trafficking of illicit drugs in the country.
They welcomed the efforts of regional and international partners and organizations in advancing regional connectivity, development, and reconstruction in Afghanistan, which is vital to ensuring stability and economic development in the country.
The statement was released after the Security Council held a virtual meeting on Afghanistan on June 25.