I thank the State of Qatar for hosting this important gathering today and for its ongoing support for peace in Afghanistan.
The start of intra-Afghan peace negotiations today in Doha between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban presents a major opportunity to achieve the long-held aspirations of the people of Afghanistan for peace.
I pay tribute to the resilience and courage of all Afghans. Their consistent calls for an end to violence and a chance to develop their own country underpin today’s inaugural meeting. Afghans themselves must determine the content and nature of the negotiations. An inclusive peace process, in which women, youth and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented, offers the best hope of a sustainable solution.
All parties must do their part to ensure that women participate in a variety of roles, and that the peace process reflects the experiences and expertise of Afghan women in all their diversity.
I have been encouraged by the two ceasefires this year. As the negotiations commence, I urge the redoubling of efforts to protect civilians and to deescalate the conflict, in order to save lives and to create a conducive environment for the talks. It is my hope that progress toward peace can lead to the return of millions of Afghans displaced internally and across borders, to their homes in a safe, dignified and orderly manner.
It is of crucial importance that all Afghan leaders and members of the international community do everything possible to make peace a reality. Please be assured of the readiness of the United Nations to support the process of intra-Afghan peace negotiations and the sustainable development of the country.