Afghan govt, Taliban resolve issues stalling peace talks

Updated 21 Nov 2020

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This file photo shows members of the Afghan Taliban. — AP/File
This file photo shows members of the Afghan Taliban. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan government and the Taliban have resolved key sticking points that had stalled peace talks for weeks, several sources said on Friday, clearing the way for negotiations to move forward.

Talks started on Sept 12 in the Qatari capital Doha but almost immediately faltered over disagreements about the agenda, the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations.

However, following days of sideline discussions, it appears negotiators have now cleared the way for full peace talks to get under way. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Taliban leader based in Pakistan said that “sufficient progress” has been made.

“We are close to an announcement and initiation of formal talks,” he said.

“A joint statement will be issued soon,” he added, saying the announcement could come in the next few days.

A second Taliban source in Pakistan confirmed that both sides have agreed on the basic rules to begin formal talks. A third source close to the Taliban also confirmed the development. An Afghan official close to negotiators in Doha said that both teams have now resolved several disputed issues, opening the path for talks to begin.

Several members of the Afghan government’s negotiating team recently returned to Kabul for final consultations, after which President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who is heading the peace process for Kabul, are expected to announce a breakthrough, the official said.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020