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U.S. Envoy Calls On Taliban To Observe Cease-Fire During Ramadan, Coronavirus Crisis

FILE: U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad
FILE: U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad

The U.S. special envoy for Afghan reconciliation has asked the Taliban to observe a cease-fire on "humanitarian grounds" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

In a series of tweets on April 26, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the Taliban should "reduce violence" and "stop all their offensive operations" until the end of the coronavirus crisis.

His remarks follow an attack by Taliban militants on the first day of Ramadan, April 24, that killed at least 13 pro-government forces in the northeastern Afghan province of Badghis.

The Taliban had rejected an earlier request by the Afghan government for a cease-fire during Ramadan.

In a statement on April 23, the Taliban said steps for a cease-fire were already drawn up in an agreement signed with the United States in Qatar in February.

The Taliban accused Afghanistan's government of failing to fully implement the peace process.

Intra-Afghan peace talks, including representatives of the Taliban, are supposed to begin after some 5,000 Taliban prisoners are released from the custody of the Afghan government.

In return, the Taliban also is supposed to release about 1,000 Afghan troops and civilian government employees it is holding.

So far, the government has freed nearly 500 Taliban prisoners and the militant group has released about 60 prisoners.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP