Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and US begin Afghan peace talks

Officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US meet in Islamabad to talk over plans for peace negotiations with the Taliban

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Pakistan's capital Islamabad is set to host the first ever round of four-way talks aimed at reviving dialogue between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban on January 11.

Updated Jan 12, 2016

Representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the USA have met for talks aimed at establishing a roadmap for peace between Afghanistan and the Taliban.

The Pakistani prime minister's foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, stated the first aim should be to persuade the Taliban to come to the table and consider giving up violence.

He said, "It is therefore important that preconditions are not attached to the start of the negotiation process. This we argue will be counterproductive."

"The threat of use of military action against irreconcilables cannot precede the offer of talks to all the groups," Aziz stated.

The participants of the meeting are Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson, the top US defence representative for Pakistan General Anthony Rock and China's special envoy on Afghanistan affairs Deng Xijun.

The decision to hold a meeting came after Pakistani Army General Raheel Sharif met with President Ashraf Ghani to set a course for the peace talks in Kabul in December.

Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour's faction has indicated signals that it is warming to the thought of finally participating in peace talks and other groups are thinking of negotiating, a senior member of the movement announced last week.

However, Mullah Mohammad Rasool Akhund, the supreme leader of the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate (a splinter Taliban group), has rejected Mansour's authority and any talks where an intermediary role is held by Pakistan, the US or China.

"We have a very clear-cut stance about peace talks: all the foreign occupying forces would need to be withdrawn," Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, Rasool's spokesperson, told Reuters on Monday.

"The issue is between the Afghans and only the Afghans can resolve it. We would not allow any third force to mediate between us."

The peace efforts have been stalled by the Taliban since it was revealed in June that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar died about two years ago.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan before a US-led coalition occupied the country and helped form a new government in 2001, following the September 11 attacks.

Even though the Taliban lost the country's control following the US invasion in 2001, it was able to regain some districts between 2005 and 2009.

The Taliban still has a significant influence in Afghanistan where it exerts control over several regions.

TRTWorld and agencies