Conflicts & War

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough for next stage of talks

Kabul, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- The Afghan government and Taliban negotiators announced on Wednesday that they have reached a deal to move forward with bilateral peace talks, a major breakthrough after months of negotiations in Doha.

The agreement allows the negotiators to work on the agenda and rules for talks and take critical issues up for discussions.

“The procedure, including its preamble of the negotiation, has been finalized and from now on, negotiation will begin on the agenda,” the two sides said in brief and identical statements.

Najia Anwari, spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry for Peace, told EFE that the next phase of talks would begin “soon.”

The peace talks, which kicked off on Sep 12 in the Qatari capital of Doha, had faced a major hurdle as the two sides were unable to reach a consensus on the basic framework for discussions.

The Taliban announced on Nov. 28 that the two sides had agreed on the rules and procedures for the talks.

The government, however, rejected the claim and said the issue required more discussions.

The United States, which has brokered the intra-Afghan negotiations after signing a peace agreement with the Taliban in February this year, welcomed the latest breakthrough.

“I welcome the news from Doha that the two Afghan sides have reached a significant milestone,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy for Afghan reconciliation, wrote on twitter.

He said the two sides have come up with a three-page agreement codifying rules and procedures for the negotiations on a “political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire.”

Khalilzad said the people of Afghanistan now expect “rapid progress” on both the fronts.

“As negotiations on a political roadmap and permanent ceasefire begin, we will work hard with all sides for serious reduction of violence and even a ceasefire during this period.”

Afghan government and Taliban representatives are negotiating an end to the Afghan war that has been raging since 2001 when the US invaded the country.

Washington had agreed for a full withdrawal of troops within 14 months in return for security guarantees that the Taliban would not use the Afghan soil for attacks against foreign countries, particularly the US.

Moreover, the Taliban also promised not to launch large-scale attacks in urban areas, including the district centers.

However, a spate of recent attacks had raised concerns about the Taliban’s inability to keep their promises, while the incidents were seen as tactics to gain leverage in the negotiations. EFE-EPA


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