Starting Monday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will begin international peace talks with the Taliban.
Seeking a “global consensus,” Ghani’s efforts will bring together representatives from some 20 countries this week. These include predominantly Middle Eastern countries, but the United States, Russia, and others involved in the region will also attend.
The push for peace comes amid increasingly dicey relations between the Afghan government and the militant Islamic movement.
“There is no obstacle on our side for the peace process, but we see that the Taliban are not serious,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said to reporters on Monday.
He and other Afghan officials have blamed the Taliban for the country’s recent spike in violence. The Taliban have mostly denied responsibility for attacks on thousands of security personnel and civilians, some of which were fatal.
Adding to the uneasiness is the looming threat of COVID-19, which has to date killed over 537,000 people worldwide. On Saturday, Pakistani Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi tested positive for the virus just days after meeting with US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad. The two had met to discuss the ongoing Afghan peace process.
This is not the first attempt at peace in the region this year.
In February, the United States and the Taliban ended a year-long negotiation process with a peace deal which President Donald Trump hoped to end the longest war in US history.
Signed in Doha, Qatar, that deal outlined the gradual withdrawal of all American troops over the next 14 months. It also allowed for the release of over 4,000 Taliban prisoners being held by Afghan authorities.
The Doha deal, however, suffered from its shortsightedness. The Taliban quickly resumed their militant attacks after the deal’s weeklong “reduction in violence” expired.
Despite another three-day ceasefire in May, during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, the Afghani people have hardly caught relief from the decades-long war between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Tensions only increased in June when it was reported that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants for killing American soldiers. Trump denied being briefed on the subject, while the Taliban insisted they were committed to achieving peace via the Doha deal.
Ghani’s latest efforts mark yet another attempt at peace in the war-torn country.