New Delhi, May 4 (PTI) India and the European Union on Tuesday called for an 'immediate, permanent and comprehensive' ceasefire in Afghanistan, and said an effective and unconditional cessation of hostilities is essential for creating the appropriate conditions for the peace process in the country.
Issues relating to the Afghan peace process figured prominently in talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell Fontelles on the sidelines of a meeting of the G7 in London. A joint press statement said both Jaishankar and Borrell underlined the importance of ensuring that the soil of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten the security of India and the EU. It said they agreed that a successful peace process requires the Taliban to engage in good faith, with a serious commitment towards finding a political solution.
'External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and Borrell jointly and firmly condemned the unacceptable level of violence perpetrated against the national forces of Afghanistan and civilians and the targeted assassinations of civil rights activists, media persons and Ulema,' it said.
The statement said Jaiishankar and Borrell reiterated their call for an immediate, permanent and comprehensive nationwide ceasefire. 'An effective and unconditional cessation of hostilities is essential for creating the appropriate conditions for the negotiations to proceed meaningfully, for building trust between the parties, in instilling confidence in the Afghan people and for demonstrating a genuine commitment of the Taliban to lasting reconciliation,' it said.
It said both sides condemned in the strongest terms all terrorist activities and reaffirmed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructures and countering radicalisation to ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for international terrorism.
Reaffirming that security in Afghanistan is intrinsically linked with security in the region, Jaishankar and Borrell agreed upon the need for the country's neighbours and regional stakeholders to be active and 'honest facilitators' in promoting a lasting, stable and peaceful resolution of the conflict.
'They underlined the importance of intra-regional initiatives promoting Afghanistan's greater economic integration and connectivity, in cooperation with all neighbours in the region, based on existing infrastructure and trading arrangements, so that Afghanistan's aid dependency can be reduced and its trade potential be realised to the fullest,' it said.
Calling for respecting and protecting the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, Jaishankar and Borrell reaffirmed their strong and continued support to an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process. They noted that any political settlement in Afghanistan must protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women, youth and minorities, and build upon the economic, social, political and development gains achieved since 2001 under a democratic constitutional framework, the statement said. PTI MPB TIR TIR TIR