Representatives from more than 20 countries expressed support for a peace process in Afghanistan between the Kabul government and the Taliban.
The call for negotiations came at a conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in March 2018. It attracted support not just from Central Asian countries but also Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
There was only one problem: The Taliban refused the peace offers and insisted instead on continuing its terror campaign against Afghan society.
Attendees at the Tashkent conference agreed that a process of Afghan reconciliation, combined with anti-terrorist and anti-narcotics operations, were necessary to restore peace and prosperity to the country.
The signatories of the joint declaration called on the Taliban to “accept this offer for a peace process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.”
Before the conference, President Ghani expressed his support to allow the Taliban to set itself up as a political party and pledged to remove sanctions if it joined the government in peace talks.
Although the meeting in Tashkent failed to achieve significant breakthroughs, it raised the profile of Uzbekistan as a diplomatic actor in Central Asia. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev offered to host peace negotiations between Afghan factions should the need arise.
Uzbekistan, together with other Central Asian countries, also expressed its commitment to further integrate Afghanistan into regional trade and strengthen joint economic links.
Sources: UzReport, Afghanistan.ru, UzA, Podrobno.uz, Mir24, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty