Washington - Representatives of the United States, China and Russia reached an 8-point consensus during meetings in Moscow last week on the Afghan peace process.

In a joint statement following the trilateral meeting on the Afghan Peace Process, the three parties agreed on the following:

1.         The three sides respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan as well as its right to choose its development path. The three sides prioritise the interests of the Afghan people in promoting a peace process.

2.         The three sides support an inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process and are ready to provide necessary assistance. The three sides encourage the Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks with a broad, representative Afghan delegation that includes the government as soon as possible. Toward this end, and as agreed in Moscow in February 2019, we support a second round of intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha (Qatar).

3.         The three sides support the Afghan government efforts to combat international terrorism and extremist organizations in Afghanistan. They take note of the Afghan Taliban’s commitment to: fight ISIS and cut ties with Al-Qaeda, ETIM, and other international terrorist groups; ensure the areas they control will not be used to threaten any other country; and call on them to prevent terrorist recruiting, training, and fundraising, and expel any known terrorists.

4.         The three sides recognise the Afghan people’s strong desire for a comprehensive ceasefire. As a first step, we call on all parties to agree on immediate and concrete steps to reduce violence.

5.         The three sides stress the importance of fighting illegal drug production and trafficking, and call on the Afghan government and the Taliban to take all the necessary steps to eliminate the drug threat in Afghanistan.

6.         The three sides call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process.

7.         The three sides call for regional countries to support this trilateral consensus and are ready to build a more extensive regional and international consensus on Afghanistan.

8.         The three sides agreed on a phased expansion of their consultations before the next trilateral meeting in Beijing. The date and composition of the meeting will be agreed upon through diplomatic channels.

According to news agencies, the Trump administration is committed to withdrawing forces from Afghanistan to end more than 17 years of war.

US, China, Russia reach 8-point consensus during trilateral meeting 

Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is in the middle of a trip that began April 21 and ends May 11. It includes stops in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

In January, US and Taliban officials touted “significant progress” in peace talks in Qatar over a proposed ceasefire and troop pullout. But in a setback, the Taliban recently announced a plan for a spring offensive, and continue to stage near-daily attacks against the Afghan government and security forces. It was followed by reports of civilian casualties in the middle of the trip aiming to promote the Afghan peace process.

“We deeply regret any loss of innocent life during military operations. We never target innocents,” Special Representative Khalilzad tweeted. “War is treacherous & unintended consequences are devastating.”

“While we strive to prevent casualties, real solution is a ceasefire or reduced violence as we pursue lasting peace.”

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy who is set shortly to hold his latest round of talks with the Taliban, called the consensus a “milestone” in efforts to end the war after he met Russian and Chinese representatives in Moscow.

A joint statement by the three countries called for an “inclusive Afghan-led” peace process and outlined points expected to feature in an eventual agreement.

“The three sides call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of the overall peace process,” the statement issued by the US State Department said.

One major sticking point is the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which has wide-ranging international support.

“The three sides encourage the Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks with a broad, representative Afghan delegation that includes the government as soon as possible,” the statement said, adding that they “support a second round of intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha.”

Khalilzad said that the statement, along with his talks earlier in the week in London with European envoys, “means we have an emerging international consensus on US approach to end the war and assurances terrorism never again emanates from Afghanistan.”

“More to do but important milestone,” he tweeted.

Khalilzad will also hold separate talks during his latest trip with Pakistan and India, which have strongly different views on Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the current peace process in Afghanistan “presents a historic opportunity for peace in the region and Pakistan is fully supporting the process.”

“Pakistan will not be party to any internal conflict in Afghanistan anymore,” Khan said.