Afghanistan to 'exchange views' with Taliban

The Taliban had no immediate reaction to Daudzai's announcement

Afp April 07, 2019

KABUL: Afghanistan is sending a delegation to "exchange views" with the Taliban in Qatar, an official said on Sunday, in an ongoing push to find a way out of the country's 17-year-old war.

Fresh talks are expected to take place in Doha later this month, where Taliban members are due to meet with Afghan officials and other stakeholders.

"For now, an inclusive delegation will go (to the Qatari capital) on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and exchange views with the Taliban," said Mohammad Omar Daudzai, President Ashraf Ghani's envoy for peace.

Daudzai stressed that the delegation will only serve to swap views with the Taliban, and its members would not necessarily be the same as a formal negotiating team.

Kabul summons Pakistan's envoy again over PM Imran's comments on Afghanistan

Afghan officials will meet Wednesday to finalise delegates, and to decide who will comprise that official negotiating team.

US and Taliban officials have held several rounds of talks but the militant group has so far refused to talk directly to the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime.

Discussions also took place between the Taliban and Afghani opposition groups in Moscow in February.

The Taliban had no immediate reaction to Daudzai's announcement, which comes after US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad spent last week in Afghanistan as part of an ongoing push for a peace deal.

Khalilzad hails Pakistan's efforts for Afghan peace process

Khalilzad has repeatedly called on Ghani to form a strong negotiating team to reach a deal before the country's delayed presidential elections, now slated for September.

On Friday, during a side trip Khalilzad made to Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had some "brotherly advice" for Afghanistan, suggesting an interim government in Kabul to help smooth the talks process.

Kabul was furious about the comment, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned a Pakistan diplomat to explain the remarks.