Published: Tue, July 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Taliban, Afghan Delegates Agree On Road Map For Future Political Settlement

Taliban, Afghan Delegates Agree On Road Map For Future Political Settlement

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration hopes to have a peace agreement by September 1.

Talks between the Taliban and various Afghan civilian representatives resumed on Monday in Qatar, a day after being suspended following a deadly suicide-vehicle attack carried out by the Taliban in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

The Taliban is refusing to hold direct negotiations with the Afghan government until the USA announces a timetable for the withdrawal.

"It is expected that the meeting will lead to direct talks between the two sides including the government of Afghanistan and it will lead to peace", TOLOnews quoted Abdullah as saying while speaking at the Council of Ministers meeting.

Around 70 delegates attended the gathering at a luxury hotel in Doha and the large meeting room erupted into applause after the joint statement had been read out shortly before 2100 GMT.

The flurry of talks will continue with the resumption of direct US-Taliban contact also in Doha on Tuesday as both sides eye a resolution to the bloody 18-year conflict.

"The differences is nearly so narrow. we are quite frankly surprised how serious both sides are and they are so committed to putting an end to this conflict", said Qatar's counter-terrorism special envoy Mutlaq al-Qahtani.

Around 60 Afghans will participate in the dialogue, organized by Qatar and Germany, with the Taliban sending a 17-member delegation. He said it was good that they had a chance to "hear from Afghans how the country has changed" in recent years, and that they seemed less "arrogant" than in the past.

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They agreed that a sustainable peace in Afghanistan would only be achieved through comprehensive and inclusive intra-Afghan talks. However, for months, the talks have hit a roadblock over the refusal of the Taliban to accept the legitimacy of the government of president Ashraf Ghani.

The envoy added that direct U.S. -Taliban talks seeking to end almost 18 years of war would pause for a separate two-day meeting of Afghan representatives and resume on Tuesday. "But no they haven't said therefore they don't want to reach an agreement with us".

The latest Doha meeting was the third such meeting following landmark summits in Moscow in February and May.

The seventh round of peace talks between the United States and Afghanistan's Taliban that are ongoing in Qatar are the "most productive" so far, USA envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Saturday.

A joint statement released on Monday said that parties are "committed to respect and protect the dignity of people, their life and property and to minimize the civilian casualties to zero".

The assurances came a day after Taliban fighters detonated a auto bomb outside a government security compound in the town of Ghazni in central Afghanistan, killing 14 and wounding more than 100, including scores of children in a school.

Khalilzad said the policy of Pakistan, which Kabul and Washington have long accused of backing the Taliban, has changed "little-by-little in a positive direction".

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