“First-ever formal session between negotiating sides today”


KABUL: Negotiators of the Taliban and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are scheduled to engage in the first formal session of the intra-Afghan talks on Tuesday (today) in the Qatari capital of Doha to begin conferring on key and substantive issues.

The two sides are in the early stages of meetings in Doha as they are on the path to hammer out a deal in order to bring an end to over 19 years of bloodshed.

Schedules and a code of conduct for the talks were discussed in meetings on Sunday and continued on Monday. A member of the Republic’s visiting delegation Nader Naderi said the sides’ contact groups had discussed the procedure and code of conduct on Monday evening.

Both the Afghan and the Taliban “contact groups” have to decide on an agenda, the code of conduct and schedules for the intra-Afghan talks.

Taliban spokesman for the group’s Qatar political office, Naeem Wardak, also confirmed on Monday that the contact committees met, adding they discussed “the focal principles and schedule of the next meetings, and furthermore, agreed on the readiness of the general meeting which will be held tomorrow [Tuesday].”

This comes as the Afghan government on Monday once again made calls, also shared by key stakeholders of the process, for a truce with the Taliban.

Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah hinted that the Taliban could offer a ceasefire in exchange for the release of their imprisoned fighters.

Meanwhile, Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi tweeted on Monday that the presence of government negotiators at the talks “is aimed at achieving a ceasefire, ending the violence and ensuring lasting peace and stability in the country”.

The unprecedented direct talks between the warring sides were launched through an opening ceremony on Saturday that was attended by representatives and dignitaries of various countries.