(Update 1: Adds byline, alters lede for added context)
By Noemí Jabois
Cairo, Sept 12 (EFE).- Nearly 19 years after the fall of the Taliban regime and the United States invasion, the Afghan government and insurgents on Saturday began peace negotiations in Doha.
The negotiations, stipulated in the recent US-Taliban deal, took place despite ongoing disagreements in the last few weeks during the release of thousands of prisoners from both sides, which was a prerequisite for the talks.
Following the inauguration and speeches delivered both on the scene and virtually, the negotiating teams meet behind closed doors to discuss issues, including the plight of Afghan women, civil society and the future of the human rights and democracy in the country.
“We have come to this country to achieve a dignified and lasting peace,” the country’s chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah said at the opening of the dialogue.
He emphasized that this moment would be remembered in Afghanistan’s history as “the end of the suffering of our people.”
The chairman said the end of the war through a political agreement was a “legitimate” demand of the Afghans and that the people of the troubled country had already “suffered enough.”
He added that there is no winner in the current conflict, and called for establishing an “Islamic, constitutional and inclusive” system that preserves the rights of all Afghans, including men, women, children and the victims of war.
“A lasting peace can pave the way for the return of millions of refugees,” he said of the many who have fled the war in recent decades, mostly to neighboring Pakistan (2.4 million) and Iran (up to 3 million).