Afghanistan peace talks resume in Doha
The Taliban and the Afghan government have resumed negotiations as their representatives once again met in Qatar to find a way out of decades of war in the country.
“The two sides discussed the ongoing situation of the country and emphasized speeding up the peace talks in Doha,” the Afghan government delegation said in a Saturday tweet.
The spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, Mohammad Naeem, also posted a tweet, saying, "Both sides agreed to continue the negotiations even after Eid."
On Thursday, the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire for Eid-al Fitr — the Muslim holiday — which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The much-awaited peace negotiations have been stalled following several rounds of talks last year.
The Taliban had previously said they would not participate in any peace talks until all foreign forces left the country.
On May 1, the United States finally began the final phase of the withdrawal of its troops from the country after twenty years.
As the violence escalated, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani urged the Taliban to announce a permanent truce.
He said that the withdrawal of foreign troops has now left no reason for the Taliban to continue killing their own people.
“The good thing about the democratic system is that every president eventually has to go,” said the president on Thursday.
“Our condition is elections,” he said while advocating early elections for peace.
Observers have already warned that the withdrawal of US forces will intensify violence in Afghanistan in the absence of a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
In a related development, the Taliban said it considers the US withdrawal as “a good step.”
Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said in a message on Thursday that the US has so far violated the agreement reached between the group and Washington in Doha last year.
Under the deal, Washington pledged to withdraw its forces in exchange for the Taliban cutting all ties with al-Qaeda and agreeing to begin negotiations with Kabul toward a ceasefire and peace accord. Foreign forces were to have left Afghanistan by May 1. But the withdrawal has been put off.
Taliban military spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has said the passing of the May 1 deadline for a complete withdrawal “opened the way for” the militants to take every counteraction they deem appropriate against foreign forces in Afghanistan.