United States special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has on Monday announced a breakthrough in efforts to put an end to the 17-year-long crisis in Afghanistan, stating Kabul government envoys will participate in Qatar talks with the Taliban next week.
A statement issued by Khalilzad’s office on Sunday evening stated that the envoy “discussed with (Afghan) President Ashraf Ghani and others how to ensure the intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha next week, in which representatives of the Afghan government and wide society will participate, can best advance our shared goal of accelerating a settlement process”, according to Dawn news reports.
In a separate statement, the Taliban said the next round of US-Taliban meeting would be slated to take place in mid-April “within the framework” of the previous peace talks.
The Taliban has insisted the participants in Doha peace talks would only share their own “views and policies” with each other during the meeting. The statement added, “If government-affiliated members do participate, they will be doing so in their own capacities and not as state representatives.”
It has also claimed some Afghan officials were present during previous meetings, but not as the Afghan government representatives.
The development marks the first time the Taliban acknowledged the willingness to include the Afghan government into peace talks.