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World

Taliban say no agreement on ‘agenda’ as Afghan peace talks resume today

  • On Monday, a Taliban spokesman stated that Afghan government representatives and officials from the insurgent group were due to resume peace talks in Qatar today after a three-week break.
  • The spokesman added that there was no final agreement yet on what would be on the agenda.
Published January 5, 2021
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ISLAMABAD: On Monday, a Taliban spokesman stated that Afghan government representatives and officials from the insurgent group were due to resume peace talks in Qatar today after a three-week break.

The spokesman added that there was no final agreement yet on what would be on the agenda.

Afghan government negotiators are expected to push for a permanent ceasefire and to protect the pre-existing system of governance in the country.

Muhammad Naeem, political spokesperson for the Taliban told Arab News on Monday that "We are ready and there is no problem on our side to start the second round of the negotiations" adding that “Both sides had exchanged lists of proposals before the break and there has been no agreement yet as to what items will be on the agenda".

Naeem also articulated that "Both sides will now decide specific topics for the agenda", adding that a cease-fire would be on the agenda in accordance with the Doha agreement. The spokesperson added that “Cease-fire will be discussed but when, how and where, this will be decided by both sides".

These negotiations follow a substantial troop withdrawal deal signed in February by the Taliban and Washington, which saw the United States pledge to pull out all foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021; although it could potentially come earlier than the prescribed deadline.

The intra-Afghan negotiations have been undermined by an escalation in violence, particularly a new trend of high-profile targeted killings of officials, activists, and journalists.

On Sunday, the Afghan government's negotiating team met President Ashraf Ghani, who “assured full support of the government to the negotiating team and wished them success in the next round of peace talks".

The United States' Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who met Pakistan's Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday, stated that he had returned to Doha with “expectations that the parties will make tangible progress in the next round of Afghanistan peace negotiations".

“Both sides must demonstrate they are acting in the best interest of the Afghan people by making real compromises and negotiating an agreement on a political settlement as soon as possible and an immediate significant reduction in violence/cease-fire,” Khalilzad tweeted.

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