Washington, March 8 : US State Secretary Antony Blinken has written to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposing a United Nations-facilitated peace conference with representatives of six countries including India to discuss a "unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan".
In the letter sent to Ghani on Sunday, Blinken said that Turkey will be approached to host a senior-level meeting of both sides in the coming weeks to finalise a peace agreement. According to the letter published by TOLO News, the UN should convene a meeting of foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the US to discuss a unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan.
It further said that US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad should share with President Ghani and the Taliban leaders written proposals "aimed at accelerating discussions on a negotiated settlement and ceasefire. These proposals reflect some of the ideas included in the roadmap for the peace process".
Blinken also said that Turkey will be asked to host a senior-level meeting of both sides in the coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement. He also urged Ghani or his "authoritative designees" to attend the meeting.
The US State Secretary said these documents will help the Afghan government and the Taliban to move towards developing principles, which will guide the country's constitutional and governing arrangements, develop a road map to a new, inclusive government and develop the terms of a permanent ceasefire.
He pointed that a revised proposal for a 90-day reduction-in-violence has also been prepared "to prevent a spring offensive by the Taliban...to coincide with diplomatic efforts to support a political settlement between the two parties."
While concluding his letter, Blinken said, "We are considering the full withdrawal of our forces by May 1, as we consider other option".
"Even with the continuation of financial assistance from the United States to your forces after an American military withdrawal, I am concerned that the security situation will worsen and that the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains," he said.
"I am making this clear to you so that you understand the urgency of my tone regarding the collective work outlined in this letter," he added.
Last year in February, then US President Donald Trump and the Taliban had signed an agreement that calls for a full US withdrawal from Afghanistan if the terror group upholds counterterrorism commitments such as denying safe haven to al Qaeda.
Since the deal was signed, the Taliban has stepped up attacks against Afghan forces, which US officials have repeatedly condemned as threatening the peace process.