U.S. remains committed to Afghan peace process despite ongoing violence, Khalilzad says

Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative in Afghanistan, said on Friday that the United States remains committed to the Afhgan peace process, despite repeated cases in which the Taliban "violated the spirit" of the newly struck peace agreement with the United States. USA.

Since the Trump administration finalized its long-awaited Taliban peace deal in February, there have been an average of 55 Taliban attacks a day, according to Afghan government data. The Pentagon has confirmed a sharp increase in the number of Taliban attacks on Afghan security forces in recent weeks.

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"We recognize that there are challenges, but there is no better alternative to peace," Khalilzad told reporters in a conference call on Friday.

His comments followed two fatal attacks in Afghanistan that captured global headlines this week.

On Tuesday, armed men raided a maternity hospital in Kabul that triggered an hour-long shootout with the police and left 19 women, nurses and newborns dead.

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Days earlier, a suicide bomb was detonated in a funeral procession in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, which killed 26.

Khalilzad attributed both attacks to ISIS, not the Taliban, as previously believed by the Afghan government.

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He said that the "fundamental requirement" for the United States in ongoing efforts to end 19 years of military involvement in Afghanistan is the Taliban's commitment to reducing violence and terrorism.

"Violence and prisoners are the two obstacles at the moment," he said.

The United States assessed that the Taliban implemented its pledge not to attack US and coalition forces, despite ongoing violence, and did not carry out attacks on major cities as part of the agreement.

But he said the Taliban continues to violate the spirit of the agreement, as the violence has not been drastically reduced.

"We believe that they violate the spirit, given the number of victims and violence," said Khalilzad.

The agreement was expected to pave the way for inter-Afghan peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban, but not only have the two sides failed to make serious headway in their direct talks, but the two sides are also on the verge of even greater conflicts amid evidence of increasingly violent attacks by Islamic State factions.

Khalilzad insisted, however, that, in the current circumstances, "the peace process is the best option and therefore we will persist".

"The sooner inter-Afghan negotiations begin, the sooner peace will come."

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