Weekly Peace News Round-up

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Over the past week, the arduous path to peace was witness to both a development and a hitch. Although the Afghan government last week announced that the main stumbling block of the prisoner release process with the Taliban was overcome and that the intra-Afghan talks would get going in a matter of few days, that didn’t happen as expected. Recently, the Taliban said some of their prisoners were still held by the government and intra-Afghan talks would be launched following their release. This is while positive signals about peace are being expressed by the High National Reconciliation Council (HNRC) as its chairman Abdullah Abdullah prefers to close the chapter of enmity with the Taliban for the sake of Afghanistan’s integrity and future. Other key stakeholders of peace within Afghanistan also reiterate that they favor the swift launch of intra-Afghan talks. Former President Hamid Karzai invited warring sides to work hard for bringing peace and rebuild their home through holding the intra-Afghan dialogue. Meanwhile, as the Afghan warring sides are seemingly inching closer to the direct talks, apprehensions have arisen about the agenda items. Many quarters stress the first and foremost thing discussed should be the declaration of a ceasefire. In a joint statement, European Union (EU) heads of mission and Canada in Kabul also urged all Afghan political forces to resolutely seize the historic opportunity for lasting peace and called on the Taliban to respond positively to and respect the unanimous call for a truce. On the other hand, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has arrived in Doha, Qatar, as part of a visit through the region to drum up support for the immediate start of intra-Afghan talks. He met with Taliban leaders in their Qatar Political Office to discuss ongoing peace developments. Despite there is much hype around the peace now, a fixed date is still not determined for the intra-Afghan talks’ launch. Residents around the country continue their calls for a ceasefire and immediate initiation of the parleys, but to no avail.