Deadlock between Taliban and Afghan government in Doha talks may end soon

Nearly a two-month-long deadlock over the rules of engagement between the Taliban and the Afghan government negotiating teams in Doha's intra-Afghan talks seems to have ended now, TOLOnews reported citing sources

Nov 23, 2020
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Nearly a two-month-long deadlock over the rules of engagement between the Taliban and the Afghan government negotiating teams in Doha's intra-Afghan talks seems to have ended now, TOLOnews reported citing sources. 

The report says the breakthrough came as the contact groups from both sides agreed to include the US-Taliban deal, the United Nations endorsements of the Afghan peace process, commitments of the negotiating teams, and the will of the Afghan people as the basis for peace talks. 

For the last two months, the talks were stalled as the warring sides clashed over the basis of talks to include in the framework required for broader negotiations. The insurgent group insisted on making the US-Taliban deal signed on 29 February this year as the basis for the intra-Afghan negotiations while the Afghan government objected to this demand saying they weren’t part of the deal. 

To break the impasses, the government had suggested a middle ground for the inclusion of the Taliban demand. The government asked for the inclusion of the US-Afghanistan joint declaration, demands of the Loya Jirga as the basis for intra-Afghan talks along with the US-Taliban deal. 

An official confirmation regarding the breakthrough is yet to be announced as both sides remained tight-lipped about the development. The report in the TOLOnews said chief negotiator from the republic team, Muhammad Masoom Stanekzai, and President peace advisor Salam Rahimi have been secretly camping in Kabul for further consultation with President Ghani. 

Interestingly it was former Afghan intelligence (NDS) chief Rahmatullah Nabil who first tweeted about the breakthrough on 19 November. However, Nabil on Sunday said, “The announcement of the agreement on negotiation procedures was postponed due to Imran Khan’s visit to Kabul.” 

Ata Mohammad Noor, a prominent leader from northern Afghanistan and leader of Jamiat-e-Islami party, welcomed the breakthrough in Doha talks and said, “The progress will open a way for lasting peace.” 

The breakthrough holds significance not only for the progress in the talks but also for the fact that it is coming at a time when Afghanistan, in less than a day time,  will join the Donor Conference, Afghanistan 2020, in Geneva, where the international community would pledge their assistance to Afghanistan. 

Earlier international community warned both sides that progress in the intra-
Afghan talks would affect the assistance they would provide for the next four years. And for Afghanistan, foreign assistance and donations are crucial for survival as it counts for almost two-third of state expenditure. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the inauguration ceremony of the intra-Afghan talk on 12 September reminded both parties saying, please keep in mind the choices and decisions you make here would have a bearing on the nature and extent of future US assistance to Afghanistan.

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