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Intra-Afghan talks to begin today, raising hopes for peace after decades of war

By: The Kabul Times

President Ghani wished success for the negotiating delegation of the Afghan Government on their mission to bring sustainable peace and stability to the country, which is the long-awaited aspiration of the people of Afghanistan.

KABUL: A start date for talks between the Afghan government and Taliban will begin Saturday (today), in a diplomatic breakthrough that could bring the country a step closer to peace after four decades of war.

The Afghan government in a statemen said: “Government of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan has made all necessary arrangements for peace and the negotiating delegation of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is fully prepared to travel to Doha, the capital of Qatar to start peace negotiations with the Taliban group.”

The statement said Thursday that according to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s instruction, the negotiating delegation will leave for Doha tomorrow (yesterday) to start peace negotiations with the Taliban group

“In the inaugural ceremony that marks the commencement of peace negotiations between the negotiating delegation of the GoIRA and the Taliban group, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation; Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs; Abdul Salam Rahimi, the President’s Special Representative on Peace Affairs; and Seyed Sa’adat Mansour Naderi, State Minister for Peace Affairs will represent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” the statement added.

President Ghani wished success for the negotiating delegation of the Afghan Government on their mission to bring sustainable peace and stability to the country, which is the long-awaited aspiration of the people of Afghanistan, the statement added.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Dr. Muhammad Naeem said in a statement on Thursday that the group “would like to declare its readiness to partake in the inauguration ceremony of Intra-Afghan negotiations” between Sept. 12 and Sept. 22. He added that the talks are to be held in Qatar where the Taliban maintain a political office.

The announcement comes on the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. that precipitated the invasion that toppled the Taliban almost 19 years ago.

Senior members of the current Afghan government will also attend the negotiations in Doha at the behest of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the government said in a statement.

Welcoming the talks, President Donald Trump told a news conference Thursday, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would attend the negotiations.

Pompeo said in statement that they marked “a historic opportunity for Afghanistan to bring an end to four decades of war and bloodshed.”

He added: “This opportunity must not be squandered. Immense sacrifice and investment by the United States, our partners, and the people of Afghanistan have made this moment of hope possible. I urge the negotiators to demonstrate the pragmatism, restraint, and flexibility this process will require to succeed.”

The talks are intended to establish a political roadmap for a country that has been at war for more than 40 years. A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire is expected to be a top item on the agenda.

The start of the peace talks has been welcomed by Afghans, with those younger than 40 having only experienced conflict.

And as the war drags on, men, women and children continue to be caught in the crossfire. From 2009 to last year, more than 100,000 civilians were killed or injured in Afghanistan, according to United Nations estimates.

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