Tue, Sep

Afghan officials, Taliban in direct talks near Islamabad


afghan-logoA delegation of the Afghan government is expected to enter face-to-face talks with Taliban representatives in Murree, a tourist resort close to Islamabad, tonight, a well-placed source told Pajhwok Afghan News on Tuesday.

The talks, the first confirmed contact, would continue tomorrow as well, the source said, adding that a four member Afghan government delegation would negotiate with a three-member Taliban team - a development that could pave the ground for formal meetings.

Pakistan is the host while Chinese and US representatives are to attend the talks as observers, the source revealed, adding that members of the proscribed Haqani Network would also be talking face-to-face with the Afghan government delegation.

The names of participants from both sides were kept under wraps, but one official said Deputy Foreign Minister Hikmat Khalil Karzai, President Advisor Haji Din Mohammad and members of the High Peace Council (HPC) would represent the Afghan government at the talks.

Sitting across the negotiating table will be Maulvi Jalil, Mullah Abbas Stanikzai and Qari Din Mohammad to represent the Taliban, who have long refused to speak directly to the government in Kabul.

The Taliban last month admitted taking part in informal talks in Norway with an Afghan delegation, reportedly made up of women.

A statement posted on President Ashraf Ghani's official Twitter account read: ““A delegation from the High Peace Council of Afghanistan has traveled to Pakistan for negotiations with the Taliban”.