Direct talks between Afghan govt, Taliban in 2 weeks

Kabul: The highly-anticipated peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban will begin within the next two weeks in a European country, an official said on Saturday.

Making the announcement, TOLOnews quoted State Minister for Peace Affairs Abdul Salam Rahimi saying that the ministry began consultations with different stakeholders over the formation of a 15-member delegation who will lead the talks with the Taliban.

“The names of the members of the negotiating team have been listed and the list is about to be finalised,” he added.

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The Taliban have consistently refused to hold direct negotiations with President Ashraf Ghani’s government calling it a puppet administration.

If the talks does go ahead, it would mark a potentially crucial as well as a significant step in efforts to end the nearly two-decades-old civil war in Afghanistan.

“Members of the team will include some delegates of the recent Doha meeting and also people with peace and negotiations background,” Rahimi said.

The delegation will represent people from all walks of life including religious scholars, civil society members and women.

The official urged both sides to reduce the level of violence ahead of the direct talks.

Earlier in the day, Ghani dissolved the secretariat of the High Peace Council (HPC), which was set up by former President Hamid Karzai in 2010 to negotiate with the Taliban.

Afghan President’s spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi had said the authorities of the HPC were transferred to the newly-established State Ministry of Peace Affairs.

The recent developments come as the Afghanistan government is involved with its international allies, especially the US to finalise a peace agreement to end the civil war in the Asian country.

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