Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, on Saturday welcomed NATOs statement focused on "key next steps" for peace and stability in Afghanistan, including a humanitarian ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

NATO "urged the Taliban to reduce violence, called on the Afghan govt to end the political crisis, and said all sides should move more quickly on prisoner releases", TOLO News quoted Khalilzad as saying.

Taliban urged to reduce violence

Zalmay Khalilzad
Zalmay Khalilzad Wikimedia Commons

"How urgently and with what conviction the sides respond to these steps will determine whether Afghanistan moves forward or remains mired in war, poverty, and disease," said the US envoy.

"The US-Taliban agreement provides a historic opportunity for Afghanistan," Ambassador Khalilzad said, "and our allies, indeed the international community, call on Afghan leaders to put their country and their people first".

Increasing Taliban violence in the country

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also renewed its appeal to "all Afghan leaders and parties to urgently reduce violence and work for lasting ceasefire".

This comes amid increasing violence by the Taliban in different parts of the country. Figures revealed to TOLO News by security officials and government sources said that 98 members of the Afghan security forces lost their lives in Taliban attacks in 14 provinces from April 18 to April 24.

At least 70 others have been wounded and more than 10 security force members are missing, according to the sources. Analysts have said that the increase in violence is a result of uncertainty and delays in the peace process as well as the arrival of the spring fighting season.