Russia's FM calls for Afghan peace talks

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-28 23:22:00|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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GENEVA, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday called for a political settlement in Afghanistan as his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis offered Switzerland to play a peace-broking role between warring factions.

In a speech made at the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, Lavrov said, "We are still deeply concerned by the deterioration of the military and political situation in the country. We believe that the Afghan crisis can be settled only by political means."

He said, "A broad intra-Afghan dialogue with the participation of the government, the Taliban movement, and the whole spectrum of political and social forces is needed."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a speech his government has formed a negotiating team to work on a peace agreement with the Taliban.

"We seek a peace agreement in which the Afghan Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society," Ghani told the conference.

Cassis also spoke on the second day of the Geneva conference on Afghanistan to assess progress since a pledging conference was held in Brussels in 2016 and to measure results against the 15.2 billion U.S. dollars committed by the international community for Afghanistan in 2016.

"After 17 years of war that produced only losers, the time has come for dialogue. The time has come for a political solution. Switzerland is ready to host any round of talks if requested," said Cassis.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and wounded in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001 in a conflict involving Afghanistan government forces and the Taliban.

Cassis also pointed out that more than two and a half million people have been forced to flee the country.

"What people in Afghanistan need most of all today is peace," said Cassis.

Relentless, high-casualty attacks in Afghanistan are beating down Afghans' morale, the President of the the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer said.

"If peace and prosperity are to make the jump from a Geneva conference room rallying cry to real life in Afghanistan, there must be a real commitment on all sides to not attack civilians, including health workers," said Maurer.

He said civilian casualties in this country have risen for eight years in a row, with violence in 2018 killing a record number of ordinary citizens - 1,692 - in the first six months.