FM Atmar sees direct peace talks in Doha ‘a welcome progress’

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: Mohammed Haneef Atmar, acting minister of foreign affairs, remains optimistic about the peace talks, as the historic talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the Qatari capital have stalled for days.

“The reality now is that we have face-to-face direct negotiation, which shows welcome progress; yes, we have obstacles and that’s why we have this dialogue, to remove them,” FM Atmar told Al Jazeera on Monday.

He was part of a high-level delegation led by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani that traveled to Doha on Monday.

“We have engaged into a new chapter of diplomacy with our regional and international partners so obstacles can be resolved. Nobody expected these negotiations will be easy, everyone predicted a variety of hurdles,” said FM Atmar, adding that “our team has presented a number of counter-proposals [to the Taliban] to find common ground.”

But he also warned: “Those who insist on violence would be extremely marginalized and will not have any legitimacy in their causes.”

FM Atmar also said the government was expecting a reduction in violence, as promised at the beginning of the talks. “We are waiting for the implementation of that pledge,” he said

Later Tuesday, President Ghani told a Doha auditorium full of diplomats and academics that he was hopeful this time around.

“Our conflict is not a civil war, it’s a regional conflict,” the president said. “My plea to the Taliban is do not be afraid of a ceasefire. A few million dollars can keep the war going but you are depriving the country of trillions of dollars.”

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