Talks between Taliban, Afghan government negotiators begin in Qatar
Kabul, July 17 (EFE).- Afghan government and Taliban negotiators met in the Qatari capital on Saturday, moving a step closer to resume stalled peace talks amid raging violence in the country after the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Taliban spokesperson Naeem Wardak said the inaugural meeting between the two sides took off in the morning.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the chief negotiator for the insurgents, addressed the delegates, said Wardak.
Baradar said Afghanistan had been trying to form a sovereign and Islamic system for the past four decades, and the “great goal of the nation is on the verge of realization.”
He regretted that the intra-Afghan talks failed to achieve “the expected progress” in the last ten months of negotiations.
“But we should not lose hope and faith in talks,” he said.
Another Taliban spokesperson M. Naeem tweeted that the inaugural session concluded, during which Abdullah Abdullah and Masoom Stanekzai from the government delegation also spoke.
The talks began a day after a high-level delegation landed in Qatar on Friday.
Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah is leading the high-level delegation.
Before leaving for Qatar, Abdullah said the delegation he led was inclusive and had the mandate to make decisions.
Peace talks have been underway between the government and the Taliban for the past more than ten months.
But the two sides have made no significant progress.
Violence has spiked in Afghanistan after the US-led international forces began pulling out from the war-ravaged country on May 1.
In the last more than two months of fighting, the Taliban have surrounded several provincial capitals after capturing more than 130 districts and many vital border crossings in the north and west of Afghanistan.
The insurgents have gained control over large swathes of territories, unprecedented in the last 20 years of war after a US invasion ousted the Islamist group.
Heavy gunfighting continued in Kandahar after the Taliban captured a vital border crossing in the southern province Tuesday night.
The Pakistani government also confirmed that the Taliban had gained control of the crossing, one of the most significant gains by the insurgents.
Afghanistan alleged that the Pakistani Army provided military support to help the Taliban maintain its hold over the border crossing, which is one of the critical trade routes connecting Pakistan with southern Afghanistan.
Islamabad summarily rejected the allegations.
The Taliban captured the critical transit point in the Spin Boldak district after days of clashes with security forces.