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Afghan government begins ceasefire as UN envoy suggests peace talks possible

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Afghan government begins ceasefire as UN envoy suggests peace talks possible

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Photo: Reuters

Afghan government forces will begin a ceasefire with Taliban forces, starting today to June 20.

After the government announced its ceasefire, Taliban forces unexpectedly announced a separate ceasefire, which will correspond with the Eid holiday beginning later this week. The ceasefire will be the first since the Taliban was toppled from power by the 2001 US-led invasion.

The UN’s special representative for Afghanistan has suggested the ceasefires are a “stepping stone” toward possible peace talks. Some have suggested recent Pakistani pressure on the Taliban to reduce their activities has pushed the Taliban toward settling with the government.

However, the prospects of future talks still face significant obstacles. For one, the Afghan Taliban has long demanded that foreign forces completely withdraw from the country as a pre-condition for even engaging in negotiation. This is simply incompatible with the US coalition’s view that the Taliban cannot be treated as a sovereign entity.

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At the same time, don’t discount the precedent that the ceasefires could establish. The developments could be a sign that the Taliban could be shifting to a more diplomatic approach—extracting concessions from the war-weary Afghan government.

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