Afghan government representatives and Taliban insurgents gathered on Saturday for historic peace talks in Doha years after 9/11. The talks were aimed at ending two decades of war that has killed tens of thousands of combatants and civilians.
The warring sides were urged by countries and groups to reach a ceasefire. Moreover, they were told to forge an agreement that upholds women’s rights.
The government of US President Donald Trump expressed its intention to use aid as leverage for a deal.
The opening ceremony came one day after the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US. The attacks triggered its military involvement in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the sides to seize the opportunity to strike a deal. The Afghan peace talks in Doha years after 9/11 incident went pretty good.
“The choice of your political system is yours to make,” he told the opening ceremony in the Qatari capital Doha.
“We believe firmly protecting the rights of Afghans is the best way for you to break the cycle of violence.”
The head of Afghanistan’s peace council, Abdullah Abdullah, said even if the two sides should compromise.
“My delegation is in Doha representing a political system. It is supported by millions of men and women from a diversity of cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds,” he said.
Afghan Peace Talks
Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund said Afghanistan should “have an Islamic system in which all tribes and ethnicities find themselves. They must do live without any discrimination and live their lives in love and brotherhood.”
Pompeo warned that the size and scope of future US financial assistance to the country. The aid relies heavily on international funding, would depend on their “choices and conduct”.
Meanwhile, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad termed preventing terrorism as the chief condition. He said protecting minorities and women’s rights would also influence any future decisions. “There is no blank check.”
Analysts say getting both sides to the negotiating table was a major achievement. However, this does not mean the path to peace will be easy in Afghanistan.
The two sides sat down after the opening ceremony to discuss how the talks will proceed, officials said.
Pakistan welcomes talks
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan would continue to be a force for a stable and prosperous region.
In a tweet on Saturday, he said it was a historic day for the Afghan peace process.
Moreover, the foreign minister said Pakistan had long maintained that peace, not war, is the answer.
Moreover, he said Pakistan was proud to champion a partnership for peace and move forward with faith and resolve that will not be deterred.
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