(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 11, 2019 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC. [Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images]

KABUL, Afghanistan – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dubbed the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) an “inclusive and authoritative” body, saying the first meeting by the leadership committee was yet another achievement.  

“We welcome the first meeting of the Leadership Committee of the Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation, an inclusive and authoritative body on peace efforts,” he said in a tweet. “This is another positive step forward.”

Addressing the ongoing war that has intensified throughout Afghanistan more recently, Pompeo said the current scale of violence amid peace negotiations is not acceptable, calling for Taliban to “stand down” and put efforts together for a comprehensive ceasefire.

“I made clear to them that the violence levels can’t continue while these negotiations go on. It won’t work,” said Pompeo, as TOLOnews quoted. “And so, we’ve asked all of them to stand back and indeed stand down. In that respect, I hope we can begin to start to address some of the front-end issues about a cease-fire here before too long.”

Meanwhile, France Ambassador to Afghanistan David Martinon hailed the progress, saying “unity is crucial for a peace that benefits rights of all Afghan people.”

“With #HCNR as the designated guidance body for the negotiations, an important step is taken in the #AfghanPeaceProcess,” he added.

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Leadership committee of HCNR hold first meeting on Afghan peace, Dec 45, 2020. [Photo: HCNR/Twitter]

This came hours after chairman of HCNR Abdullah Abdullah in an inaugural meeting of its leadership committee Saturday said the body “greatly benefitted” from colleagues’ constructive contributions and proposals.

“We all agree that we need to reflect the shared aspirations of our heroic nation & aim for a just & dignified peace through purposeful engagement & a political roadmap to put an end to the conflict,” said Abdullah in a tweet.

“We start our work in support of the ongoing process & with a spirit of justified sacrifice & compromise,” he added.

On September 12, the Afghan and Taliban delegations formally launched intra-Afghan negotiations, but have since then struggled on ground rules to push through the process.