Taliban and Afghan government could hold breakthrough direct talks in Norway

Taliban and Afghan government could hold breakthrough direct talks in Norway
The Taliban could hold groundbreaking direct talks with the Afghan government.
2 min read
27 July, 2019
The Taliban will hold talks with the Afghan government [Getty]

Direct talks between the Taliban and Afghan government could take place in the next two weeks, sources have told AFP, which would be a huge breakthrough in establishing peace in the country.

The talks would take place in Norway and could see Taliban representatives sit down in formal talks with a 15 member government committee.

The Taliban have so far refused to speak to President Ashraf Ghani's government, which they see as illegitimate, but did speak with some government officials at a recent summit in a "personal capacity".

"We are preparing for direct talks," said Abdul Salam Rahimi, the state minister for peace affairs.

"We are working with all sides and hope that in the next two weeks the first meeting will take place in a European country."

Sources told AFP the talks were scheduled to begin in Oslo on 7 August, although they are awaiting word from the Taliban.

Ghani and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed in a telephone call Wednesday that "now is the time to accelerate efforts to reach a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan", according to a joint statement.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has spent the past several days in Kabul, where he met with Ghani and US officials and is expected to fly to Doha next week for another round of direct US-Taliban talks. 

The US and Taliban appear close to ending a nearly 18-year war between the two sides in Afghanistan. 

Washington has said it wants to see a deal inked by 1 September in time for elections.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP any new talks with the government would only take place after an agreement with the US.

He also said that the Taliban would "not talk to the Kabul administration as a government".

The bloodshed in Afghanistan continues, with at least three police officers killed and a dozen injured on Saturday following a Taliban bomb attack.

Three blasts rocked in Kabul earlier this week also killing at least 10 people and wounding scores more.