• publish: 8 July 2015
  • time: 11:36 am
  • category: Excerpted
  • No: 185
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Afghanistan and Taliban peace talks end with promise to meet again

The first officially acknowledged peace talks between the Taliban and the government concluded with an agreement to meet again after Ramazan, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.

“The next meeting will be held at a mutually convenient date after Ramazan,” the foreign minister of Pakistan said.

The ministry said in a statement the talks were held Tuesday at Murree, a hill resort near Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. Representatives of China and the United States were also present during the meeting, it said.

The Pakistani government hosted the talks, marking the first time the two came face-to-face ever since President Ashraf Ghani assumed office in September last year.

Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai led a four-member delegation that includes representatives of the High Peace Council and advisers to the Afghan president and the chief executive.

A three-member Taliban team took part in the talks. However, as of now, all sides are silent over the names and positions of the participants from the Taliban side.

The Taliban have not yet commented on the talks and the group’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said he is unaware of any talks.

A statement by the Taliban is expected later today. It is unclear if the Taliban’s Qatar office was involved in the process. The Taliban had previously disowned all talks held without the involvement of their political office.

However, participants exchanged views on ways to bring peace and reconciliation to Afghanistan, where fighting has continued since the Taliban was removed from power by US-led forces in 2001. Since taking office, President Ashraf Ghani has made it a priority to find a peace settlement.

Both sides “expressed their collective desire to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region,” the Pakistan ministry statement said. “Participants recognized the need to develop confidence-building measures to engender trust among all stakeholders.”

The next meeting would be held at a mutually convenient date after Ramadan ends later this month, it said.

Tuesday’s talks came after repeated informal meetings between Taliban and government representatives, most recently hosted by Qatar and Norway. The talks were the first formally acknowledged by the Afghan government; that and the semi-public nature of the talks suggested possible progress after years of frustration in trying to bring the two sides together.

Previous efforts to start a dialogue stalled, however, largely due the lack of trust and confidence between the two sides.

 

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