Global consensus needed for peace talks with Taliban: Afghan Acting FM Hanif Atmar

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Afghanistan’s leadership has been working toward building an international and regional consensus in support of the peace process, Afghan Acting FM Hanif Atmar told Al Arabiya ahead of negotiations with the Taliban group.

“We have also been trying to work at international effort to build international and regional consensus in support of the peace process. It's good to note that we have regional consensus for the peace process, its success, and for the instating of the peace process,” Atmar told Al Arabiya in a pre-recorded interview from Kabul days before the government meets with the Taliban in Doha on Saturday.

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Long-delayed peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators will begin Saturday in Qatar, officials and the insurgent group announced Thursday.

The presidential palace said government negotiators would head to Doha on Friday to participate in the talks.

Speaking on the obstacles ahead of the talks, Atmar said he expects there will be more of them.

“We've been trying to remove the obstacles that we knew off, the obstacles that were on the way to the start of the African negotiation peace negotiation. So those obstacles have been removed. If there are new obstacles emerging on the way, which I suspect there will be, the people and the government of Afghanistan are fully determined to work together to remove those obstacles as well,” he told Al Arabiya.

Part of those obstacles included the Taliban’s condition of releasing its fighters from Afghan prisons. The Afghan government released nearly 200 Taliban prisoners last week to spur the start of long-delayed peace negotiations, senior Afghan officials confirmed. The fresh releases are from a group of 400 “hardcore” Taliban prisoners, the fate of which has stalled peace negotiations between the government and insurgent group to end nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan.

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