Switzerland ready to host Afghanistan peace talks

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the conference in Geneva. AFP or licensors

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has offered Switzerland’s services as a peace broker between the warring factions in Afghanistan. Cassis was speaking at a two-day Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in Geneva. 

This content was published on November 28, 2018

“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,” he said.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and wounded in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001. The conflict between Afghanistan government forces and the Taliban. Cassis also pointed out on Wednesday that more than two and a half million people have been forced to flee the country.

Cassis also praised the determination of civilians to vote despite the dangers. “At the risk of their lives, several million Afghans have exercised their democratic right. They used ballots against rifle bullets to defend their freedom.”

Switzerland has actively sought to promote human rights, strengthen the rule of law, protect disadvantaged groups, and improve basic education in Afghanistan since 2002. Between 2017 and 2020, these activities have been funded to the tune of CHF26 million annually.

During the conference, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani presented a “roadmap to peace” and confirmed that he was willing to negotiate with the Taliban.

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), also weighed in with his own message, pointing out that a record 1,692 civilians had been killed in the first six months of this year. More than 3.4 million people are estimated to be in severe need of food.

Attacks on women and aid workers had also increased as military operations have tended to be conducted nearer to populated areas, Maurer added.  

Maurer has held talks with President Ghani in Geneva to find a way to better support humanitarian initiatives. “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. We remain hopeful the day approaches that civilian suffering in Afghanistan diminishes; today that remains a distant dream,” Maurer said in a statement.

Foreign ministers from Russia, Germany, Iran and other countries, as well as the European Union's foreign policy chief joined Afghanistan's president and other top officials at the United Nations meetingExternal link in Geneva.

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