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US, Germany: Taliban, Afghan rivals to meet Sunday in Qatar

  • Published at 09:37 pm July 2nd, 2019
USA-AFGHANISTAN/TALKS
Undated handout picture of US, Taliban and Qatar officials during a meeting for peace talks in Doha, Qatar Reuters

The Taliban have refused to negotiate with President Ashraf Ghani and a previous attempt to bring together the two sides in Doha in April collapsed in a dispute over attendees

Rival Afghans including the Taliban will meet starting Sunday in Qatar in a fresh attempt to seek a political solution and end nearly two decades of US military involvement, American and German officials announced.

The Taliban have refused to negotiate with President Ashraf Ghani and a previous attempt to bring together the two sides in Doha in April collapsed in a dispute over attendees.

Germany, a key player in international support for the post-Taliban government, and Qatar, which maintains contacts with the militants, said that they jointly extended invitations for a dialogue in Doha on Sunday and Monday.

The Afghans "will participate only in their personal capacity and on an equal footing," Markus Potzel, Germany's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in a statement released Monday by the United States.

"Afghanistan stands at a critical moment of opportunity for progress towards peace," he said.

"An essential component of any process leading to this objective will be direct engagement between Afghans," he said.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US negotiator who has held seven rounds of talks with the Taliban, mostly in Qatar, said that the dialogue was an essential part of a peace deal.

"Mutual acceptance, seeking consensus, and agreeing to resolve political differences without force is what is needed to learn from the tragedy of the last 40 years," Khalilzad said, referring to Afghanistan's nearly incessant conflict since the Soviet invasion in 1979.