Afghan delegation to meet with Taliban in Qatar
The scheduled meeting would mark a significant step towards opening formal talks to ending the war
An Afghan delegation is headed to Qatar for “open discussions” with representatives of Taliban insurgents over the next few days aimed at ending Afghanistan’s long war, officials said on Friday.
The scheduled meeting would mark a significant step towards opening formal talks to ending the war, but it was not clear on Friday whether the Taliban’s reclusive supreme leader had approved them.
Pakistan’s army chief told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in February that senior figures in the Taliban were open to direct talks with Kabul to end the war, but until now there had been little sign of progress.
The 20-member Afghan delegation will attend preliminary talks set for Sunday and Monday, said Attaullah Ludin, deputy chief of the country’s High Peace Council.
“The open discussions are based on peace in Afghanistan. There will be representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Taliban and some other organisations,” Ludin said.
He added that members of the High Peace Council would be meeting the Taliban in Qatar and also two representatives of Hizb-i-Islami, another militant group fighting Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government that also has a political wing.
A senior Taliban official in Qatar confirmed that a meeting was set for the next several days with Afghan figures, as well as some from Pakistan and other countries.
The Taliban official also said that Hizb-i-Islami figures would participate in the meeting. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to reveal the talks.
“It’s top secret so far,” he said.