WORLD Kabul, Taliban negotiators meet in Qatar as Afghan fighting rages


Kabul, Taliban negotiators meet in Qatar as Afghan fighting rages


19:46, July 17, 2021

A Taliban delegation headed by Abdul Ghani Baradar (2nd R) and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai (L) leaves a hotel after attending a meeting on Afghan peace, Moscow, Russia, March 19, 2021. (Photo: Agencies)

Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban met in Doha for talks on Saturday, as violence rages in Afghanistan with foreign forces almost entirely withdrawn.

The two sides have been meeting on and off for months in the Qatari capital, but the talks have lost momentum as the insurgents have made battlefield gains.

Several high-ranking officials, including former Afghan former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, gathered in a luxury hotel on Saturday after morning prayers.

They were joined by negotiators from the Taliban's political office in Doha. Former President Hamid Karzai had also been due to travel to Doha but remained in Kabul, according to a source.

"The high level delegation is here to talk to both sides, guide them and support the (government) negotiating team in terms of speeding up the talks and have progress," said Najia Anwari, spokeswoman for the Afghan government negotiating team in Doha.

"We expect that it (will) speed the talks and ... in a short time, both sides will reach a result and we will witness a durable and dignified peace in Afghanistan," she added.

'Ready for dialogue'

The Taliban has capitalized on the last stages of the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan to launch a series of lightning offensives across the country.

"We are ready for dialogue, for talks and negotiations, and our priority is to solve the problems through dialogue," Taliban spokesman Muhamad Naeem told the Al Jazeera broadcaster ahead of Saturday's talks.

"The other side must have a true and sincere will to end the problems," Naeem tweeted on Saturday.

Since the start of the pull-out of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan in early May, the Taliban outfit has captured 116 districts but failed to overrun any big city in the conflict-battered country, according to Afghan government officials.

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