Opening the ceremony officially was Qatar’s deputy premier and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani who was then followed by Afghanistan’s Chairman of the High Council of National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah.
Abdullah said the Afghan team has come to Doha with a clear intention to hold honest talks with the Taliban in order to end 40 years of bloodshed and bring lasting peace.
“The legitimate demand of our people and the goal of peace is to end all forms of war and violence through political means,” he said.
He told delegates Afghans want a constitutional system and stability.
“The current war has no winner through war, but a political solution according to the will of the nation has no loser!” he said.
On the issue of the deal signed between the United States and the Taliban, he said people had hoped for peace after this.
“Unfortunately, since then, more than 12,000 Afghans have been killed and about 15,000 wounded in the conflict,” he said.
Addressing the Taliban, he said: “We have released a large number of your prisoners from our prisons for peace and thank you for releasing the prisoners of state.”
He also called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” with the Taliban.
“We have to stop violence and agree on a ceasefire as soon as possible. We want a humanitarian ceasefire,” said the former minister who chairs the High Council for National Reconciliation.
In conclusion, he said: “I believe that if we all give each other the hand of brotherhood with honesty and sincerity, the current torn edge of grief will bring lasting peace to all and to the country.”
Taliban’s head of their negotiating team, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, then delivered his speech and said the Taliban assures Afghans that they will conduct the negotiations sincerely but stated that Afghanistan should have an Islamic system.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also addressed delegates and noted the importance of the day.
Pompeo urged warring Afghan sides to seize the opportunity to strike a peace deal.
“The choice of your future political system is, of course, yours to make,” he said, adding that he hoped the solution would protect the rights of all Afghans and protect social progress, including the presence of women in public life.
“I cannot strongly enough urge you, seize this opportunity”, he added.