Breakthrough between Afghan government and Taliban over peace talks

Breakthrough between Afghan government and Taliban over peace talks
A bid to end the country's 17-year war got a huge boost when the Kabul government announced it would 'exchange views' with the Taliban.
2 min read
07 April, 2019
Kabul officials will hold talks with the Taliban [Getty]

Afghanistan's government has announced that it will send a delegation to Qatar to "exchange views" with the Taliban, after repeated failures to establish direct talks between the two sides.

Kabul officials and members of the Taliban are expected to hold talks in Doha later in the month, despite the Afghan militant group saying it would not deal with the government.

"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 Mohammed Omar Daudzai, President Ashraf Ghani's envoy for peace.

He stressed that the delegation will only serve to swap views with the Taliban, and there would be no formal negotiations with the movement.

Members of the government will meet on Wednesday to finalise delegates, and to decide who will comprise that official negotiating team.

The Taliban have refused to talk with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate puppet regime.

Talks were held between the Taliban and Afghani opposition groups in Moscow in February.

The Taliban did not comment on Daudzai's announcement, which comes after US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad spent last week in Afghanistan, as part of Washington's push for peace in the country, which would allow for some or all American troops there to return home. 

Khalilzad has repeatedly called on President Ashraf Ghani to form a strong negotiating team to reach a deal before Afghanistan's delayed presidential elections, now slated for September, take place.

The US official made to a trip to Pakistan on Friday, where Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had some "brotherly advice" for Afghanistan, suggesting an interim government in Kabul to help smooth the peace process.

Kabul was furious about the comment, and the ministry of foreign affairs summoned a Pakistan diplomat to explain the remarks.