Taliban, Afghan negotiators meet in Qatar

Representatives of both sides describes meeting as an opportunity to participate in an open discussion, rather than to negotiate peace

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Taliban representatives have met with Afghan political figures in Qatar for two days of meetings. The two sides discussed a possible ceasefire but disagreed over the continued presence of US troops in the country, Reuters reported.

The informal talks in Qatar came as the Taliban recently launched an offensive in northern Afghanistan.

The Taliban said in a statement that the eight members of their delegation were all attending in their personal capacities, and that the meetings “should not be misconstrued as peace or negotiation talks.”

The Afghan government has not made any official statement about the talks.

The Taliban delegation includes figures such as Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a former top Taliban official, and Sohail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatar office.

Afghan government’s negotiators included former members of the Taliban, as well as Tajik, Pashtun and Uzbek leaders; and President Ashraf Ghani’s uncle Abdul Qayoum Kochai.

One Taliban participant told Reuters by telephone that the Taliban delegation held direct dialogue with Afghan officials.

He said the Taliban and Afghan government representatives made their demands mutually, and Taliban rejected to stop fighting until all foreign forces left Afghanistan. In response, the government delegation claimed “most foreigners had already left and only trainers remained, who would also leave if the Taliban stopped fighting.”

The talks ended with no agreement except to hold another meeting in the United Arab Emirates "probably next month," Reuters reported.

Representatives from several countries including the United States, China and Pakistan also attended the talks.

An official of the US State Department said Washington has "no meetings ongoing or scheduled with the Taliban in Doha or elsewhere," but is "strongly supportive of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process whereby the Taliban and the Afghans continue engaging in talks towards a settlement to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan."

Pakistan said it supports the dialogue, while China made no comment on its participation.

TRTWorld and agencies