Kabul: European Union officials called Sunday for a ceasefire in Afghanistan, saying the breakdown in US-Taliban talks presented an opportunity to push for a truce, as the US defense secretary made an unexpected visit to Kabul.
US President Donald Trump last month declared talks with the insurgents "dead", citing a Taliban attack that killed a US soldier. Negotiations had been in the final stages for a deal that would have seen the US pull troops from Afghanistan after 18 years in return for various Taliban guarantees.
But to the dismay of many Afghans and international observers, the deal included no immediate, comprehensive ceasefire, and rather would supposedly have paved the way for a reduction in violence and later talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Roland Kobia, the EU special envoy for Afghanistan, said the talks' collapse provided a chance to push for a ceasefire which would, in turn, prove a large enough change in Afghanistan for Trump to consider resuming negotiations.
"It's the right moment and the right opportunity to maybe go one step beyond a simple reduction in violence and explore ways in which a ceasefire... will take place," Kobia told Kabul journalists.
"The idea is really to see how we can move the ceasefire idea forward instead of leaving it for later... There is an opportunity here today".
In the meantime, violence in Afghanistan continues unabated. On Friday, at least 70 people were killed when a mosque in Nangarhar province was bombed.