Kabul: In a move that comes as a positive step in the Afghan peace process, some negotiators of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban held a meeting in Doha on Sunday–their latest since May 13.
Shaikh Abdul Hakim Haqqani, the head of the Taliban’s negotiating team, also attended the meeting, according to sources in Qatar. This follows his one-month consultation with the Taliban leadership in Pakistan. He returned to Doha from Islamabad on Friday, sources added.
The Afghan government negotiators also confirmed their meeting with the Taliban and said that they discussed the resumption of the negotiations and the details of continuing the talks. Republic negotiator Ghulam Farooq Majroh, who is in Afghanistan, said that the meeting is a sign of improvement in peace talks. “Brief discussions were made regarding the start of the negotiations and other details,” Majroh said.
The negotiations in Doha had come to a halt after US President Joe Biden announced an extension of the May 1 deadline for the full withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Also, the Taliban chose not to participate in a UN-led conference in Turkey.
“We have not left negotiations. We are here (in Doha). Some issues that happen in the political arena have no relation with the us,” said Taliban spokesperson in Doha, Mohammad Naeem.
The two sides are opting to resume the negotiations even as intense clashes are being reported between security forces and the Taliban over the last two weeks.
Along with Doha, efforts are also reportedly underway in Pakistan to aid Afghan peace process. Former president Hamid Karzai in an interview with Der Spiegel was asked about an upcoming conference in Pakistan where President Ashraf Ghani is expected to meet Taliban leader Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada for the first time. Karzai said nothing is official yet, but he added “we would welcome such a proposal with the utmost interest.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s Sputnik has reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the “monopolization” of power by the Taliban in Afghanistan is not acceptable for his country in an interview with the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper.
“We have made it clear to the members of the Taliban that we oppose their attempts to monopolize power,” he emphasized. According to Lavrov, concerns about the possibility of the Taliban seizing power come, first and foremost, from Western observers.
“However, first, the Taliban themselves have denied such intentions and second, there are Afghan political forces that clearly will not support the Taliban’s forceful takeover of power,” the Russian top diplomat said.