'Guterres closely following talks between US, Taliban'

Antonio Guterres closely following talks between US, Taliban: UN spokesman

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Reuters Photo)

UN chief Antonio Guterres has been closely following talks between the US and the Taliban about a "significant reduction" of violence in Afghanistan aimed at opening the way for intra-Afghan peace negotiations, his spokesman said.

According to a statement on Monday attributable to the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, during his visit to Islamabad, Guterres expressed his sincere wishes that such talks are successful and lead to an Afghan-led peace process.

“The Secretary-General has been following closely the talks between the US and the Taliban about a significant reduction of violence in Afghanistan aimed at opening the way for intra-Afghan peace negotiations,” the statement said.

In November last year, US President Donald Trump announced the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban.

After nine rounds of negotiations with the Taliban, Trump abruptly cancelled peace talks in September after a US soldier was killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

Guterres reiterated the UN's readiness to provide any assistance that the parties may require.

The UN chief, during an international conference on Afghan refugees on Monday in Islamabad, called the global community to step up efforts to help bring peace in war-torn Afghanistan, saying the Afghan people need and deserve peace, prosperity and full respect of their human rights.

Noting that the Afghan refugee crisis is the world's largest protracted refugee situation in recorded history, Guterres said there is deep impact on the Afghani people due to the protracted nature of conflict, poverty and forced displacement.

Last week, Trump's national security adviser Robert O’Brien said he was cautiously optimistic that there could be a US agreement with the Taliban over the next days or weeks, but a withdrawal of American forces was not imminent.

“I think that we're making significant progress,” O'Brien said at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington.

“It's something we're keeping the president appraised of on a very regular basis. You hate to make predictions when it comes to Afghanistan ... but I'll say that we're cautiously optimistic that some good news could be forthcoming on that front,” he said.

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