ibusinesslines.com October 21, 2018

United States military to honor temporary Taliban ceasefire during Ramadan

08 June 2018, 10:05 | Erica Roy

Nicholson, who was attending the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting to provide updates on the war in Afghanistan, said he could not predict whether the Taliban will join the cease-fire announced this week by President Ashraf Ghani.

Ashraf Ghani said a week-long truce will remain in place until June 20.

The United States is looking to intensifying ongoing military operations against Islamic State militants in the eastern Afghanistan province of Nangarhar during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the top USA general in Afghanistan said on Friday.

But former Afghan army general Atiqullah Amarkhel said the ceasefire would give the Taliban a chance to regroup.

"We will adhere to the wishes of Afghanistan for the country to enjoy a peaceful end to the Islamic holy month of Ramazan, and support the search for an end to the conflict", said General John Nicholson, head of USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan.

The Nato-led coalition said it would abide by the ceasefire.

"President Ghani's peace offer was universally supported by the worldwide community and the ceasefire represents another bold initiative for peace, and is for the benefit of all Afghans", Nicholson said.

"The United States is ready to participate in the discussion, but we can not serve as a substitute for the Afghan government and the Afghan people".

A suicide bombing outside the gathering, attended by around 2,000 Muslim clerics, scholars, and figures of authority in religion and law from across Afghanistan, killed at least seven people, including several clerics.

Even as USA officials express a desire for a political end to the war, it remains uncertain whether the Trump administration will devote significant resources to kindling a peace process with the Taliban.

"With the cease-fire announcement, we epitomize the strength of the Afghan government and the will of the people to achieve a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict".

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said they would honour the ceasefire. The U.S. -backed president in February offered the Taliban unconditional talks, but the insurgent group publicly refused to engage with what it calls an illegitimate government and has responded by stepping up attacks. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting, and it was not clear who the target was.

When President Donald Trump announced last August that he was committed to winning the war with a revamped strategy, he said the goal was to compel the Taliban - with help from Pakistan and other interested nations - to seek peace.

"The only way for them to achieve a solution is to sit down at the negotiating table", he told reporters.

The Eid al-Fitr holiday ending Ramadan falls at the end of next week.

Nicholson, who has commanded the USA -led military coalition in Afghanistan since March 2016, spoke with measured optimism about prospects for compelling the Taliban to enter peace negotiations with the Afghan government.

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