Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said on Sunday, that the Afghan government believed that there should be a “significant” reduction in violence, followed by a humanitarian ceasefire and eventually a permanent ceasefire.
Speaking at a press conference in Qatar, Abdullah said that a ceasefire would be one of the top items on the agenda of the intra-Afghan peace talks.
“The ceasefire is the demand of all Afghans… the desire of the Afghan people is for peace,” Abdullah said.
“It would be miscalculation to think that causing more casualties would make people more hopeful about peace. Increasing the casualties is not a solution,” he warned the Taliban.
In the opening ceremony on Saturday, Abdullah had said that over 12,000 Afghans had been killed and 15,000 had been wounded since the end of February 2020, when the U.S. and Taliban signed the peace deal in Doha.
While agreeing that the start of the talks itself was a historical step, Abdullah said on Sunday, that years-old disputes will take time to resolve while the Afghan people would continue to suffer from the violence.
The end game of the talks must be in line with peace, the chairman of the Reconciliation Council said.
“Returning to the past is not acceptable to the people of Afghanistan.”
He noted that the preliminary meeting of the delegations was held on Saturday.
“If we want to live peacefully in Afghanistan, we should find a solution, the door of negotiations should not be closed.”
He said that victory through war was impossible in Afghanistan but sitting for the negotiations can make both sides “winners.”
He also agreed with the Taliban’s demands of no foreigners being present in the negotiating room – as participants or observers.
However, he added that there may come a stage when non-Afghan would be required to come in.
Abdullah also said that so far, he had met with the Taliban delegation at the opening ceremony and not had a private meeting with the leadership or the negotiating team.
He said that he would meet with the Afghan government’s negotiating team and then return to Afghanistan.
Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, the chief peace negotiator of the Afghan government’s delegation said that it was “illogical” for the peace talks to take place in Qatar while the bloodshed continued in Afghanistan.
He added that the first official meeting between the delegations were held on Saturday in a “positive atmosphere” and an agreement was reached on certain issues, such as forming a contact group.
“Both sides are working on preparations for the next meetings,” Stanekzai said.
Taliban spokesperson Naeem Wardak also said that a meeting between the Afghan contact or technical groups had not taken place.