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Ghani urges world to support peace in Afghanistan in speech to UN

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a joint news conference with then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 12, 2016. (Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee/Department of Defense)
September 25, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has urged the world to help his country achieve peace amid talks with the Taliban aimed at ending nearly two decades of conflict.

In a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly delivered on September 23, Ghani said the Afghan government had demonstrated the “commitment, compassion, and courage” to make hard decisions to hold direct peace talks with the Taliban but said this wouldn’t be enough.

“For sustainable peace in Afghanistan we must get to the roots of the terrorism problem blighting our region and address it as the global phenomenon and threat that it is,” Ghani said.

Afghanistan, he said, faced “multiple drivers of turmoil all at once,” noting that the coronavirus pandemic and climate change were among them.

But the main driver of turmoil is a wave of global terrorism in which terrorist networks are closely linked with global criminal networks, making warfare totally unconventional and peace-building even more of a challenge, he said.

But Ghani said peace remains Afghanistan’s “most urgent and important priority,” and at the talks, which got under way in Doha, Qatar, on September 12, the Afghan people have a “clear and urgent priority” to achieve a cease-fire.

The intra-Afghan talks are part of a process begun in February when the United States and the militants struck an agreement that could see foreign troops exit Afghanistan.

The Afghan government’s lead negotiator, Abdullah Abdullah, said on September 22 that negotiations with the Taliban had been positive, although the two sides reportedly remain far from agreement on virtually every issue.

Abdullah also said that some of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners released by the Afghan authorities as a condition for talks had resumed the fight against the government, and said that despite the negotiations, the level of violence inside Afghanistan had not fallen.

He called on Washington and Pakistan, which allegedly maintains ties to the militants, to pressure them to agree to a cease-fire.

In his UN speech, which was delivered to a largely virtual General Assembly because of the coronavirus pandemic, Ghani called on the members of the assembly to help the country achieve a “sovereign, united, and democratic Afghanistan.”

The Afghan president said that outcome would be an example of how the principles on which the UN was founded can work and would show “how our collective will can overcome the turmoil and uncertainty that defines our world today.”