First government and Taliban peace meeting to take place in Doha

Kabul, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- The Afghan government and Taliban announced on Sunday the first peace talks between the two sides will take place in Qatar.

The meeting will take place in the capital Doha where the Taliban has its political office and signed a peace agreement with the United States on 29 February.

“The Afghan government has only agreed for a first meeting to take place in Doha, there has not been any agreement yet on the venue of the direct talks,” Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Afghan presidential palace, wrote on his twitter and also later confirmed to Efe.

The date of the meeting has not yet been announced.

The matter was agreed upon on Thursday in a meeting between Afghani President Ashraf Ghani and a Qatari delegation, led by Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, the special envoy of the foreign minister of Qatar for counterterrorism and mediation of conflict resolution, during his visit to Kabul.

A senior aide to Ghani told Efe the current agreement is only for the first meeting and the sides involved in Afghan peace efforts are still working on the details and to agree on the venue for the intra-Afghan talks. 

“We will share official and detailed information about the venue of the direct talks meetings soon” the official, who requested not to be named, added.

The Taliban has emphasized that no direct talks with the government will take place before the release of their 5,000 prisoners.

“I confirm the first meeting will take place in Doha,” Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the group at its political office in Qatar, told Efe.

Direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban were slated to begin on 10 March as per the US-Taliban agreement.

The Doha deal also set out an exchange of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for 1,000 governmental prisoners before the direct talks would begin.

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