KABUL: The next round of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government is expected to take place in Qatar next month, a top official said on Sunday, prompting recent demands by President Ashraf Ghani to move them back home.
Peace talks began at a luxurious hotel in Doha on 12 September, but discussions are reportedly on a hiatus until 5 January.
“The second round of talks will begin in Doha on January 5,” said Faraidoon Khwazoon, the spokesman for the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, which is heading the country’s peace process.
The Council Leadership Team… He tweeted, noting that many of the countries that had previously offered to host the talks withdrawn their proposals because of Covid-19, preferring to hold the talks in Doha.
As the peace process “promotes progress,” Pakistan affirmed its strong commitment to sustainable peace in Afghanistan and urged the two sides “to avoid accusations and demonstrate wisdom.”
Meanwhile, the Afghan presidency tweeted in a statement that Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, head of the national reconciliation council, had a meeting on Sunday.
The two “discussed the location of the next round of talks,” during which, the presidency said, Ghani declared the government’s support for a second round of talks with the Taliban.
Earlier in December, after months of sometimes exhausting meetings which were bogged down by disagreements about the basic structure of negotiations and theological interpretations, delegates on both sides agreed to take a break.
Before the break started, the delegates officially declared that as talks resumed on January 5, they were able to move to the tentative list of agenda items.
But Ghani and some other senior officials in Afghanistan immediately called for the next round of meetings to take place in Afghanistan.
The insistence on having talks in luxury hotels is not necessary. It is crucial that people see how the debates take place, what topics are based on and why,” Ghani said shortly after the break in talks was announced.”
The Taliban have not spoken on Ghani’s appeal, but have still declined to hold talks in Afghanistan in the past.
There is a government office in Doha for the rebel faction and its negotiation team remains there.
In recent months, preparations for fresh talks have come in the wake of a wave in violence throughout Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul, which has seen frequent bomb attacks and deliberate killings of prominent figures.
“While Pakistan’s efforts are recognised and appreciated by Afghan society and the international community, we are concerned about some negative comments that continue to emanate from certain official and unofficial Afghan circles,” the spokesman for the Foreign Office in Islamabad said in a statement.
He said Pakistan will continue to stress the mutually agreed basic principle that, through specific bilateral forums and networks, all bilateral issues, including security and intelligence matters, should be discussed.
The Speaker claimed that the related working groups of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity had sufficient institutional forums in place for such speeches.
Over the course of the current year, the Speaker stated that Pakistan’s long-standing status has been reaffirmed and its efforts have enabled some breakthroughs in the peace process, including the US-Taliban peace agreement on 29 Feb; the launch of intra-Afghan talks on 12 Sept; and the agreement between Afghan parties on the rules and procedures for negotiations on 2 December.
As the negotiations reach a delicate process, the FO spokesman said that it is necessary for the negotiating parties to prevent allegations and to display experience, sagacity and vision for the wider objective of ensuring sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
He emphasised that the need for the Afghan government to take concrete steps to fulfil its responsibility for national security, law and order and the safety of Afghan lives should be underlined.
“Pakistan stands ready to extend, through effective institutional collaboration, all possible security cooperation and effective border management,” he said.
The Speaker noted that the two countries have recently experienced a promising trend in bilateral relations, with considerable progress being made on key bilateral issues, including the revision of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement.