Talks between Taliban and ‘informal’ Afghan delegation key first step to political deal

Talks between Taliban and ‘informal’ Afghan delegation key first step to political deal

Some 250 Afghan community and political leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani’s chief of staff and cabinet ministers, will hold talks

afghan taliban talks qatar

Photo: Sergei Savostyanov\TASS via Getty

Some 250 Afghan community and political leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani’s chief of staff and cabinet ministers, will hold talks with the Taliban in Doha today—the first ever meeting of its kind.

All delegates on the Afghan government side are technically attending in personal capacity—a prerequisite of the Taliban, which has shunned the Kabul-based government as a “puppet” of Washington.

Indeed, it is Washington that is the driving force behind today’s meeting in Doha. President Donald Trump is determined to see the US military withdraw from Afghanistan, where it has fought the Taliban for almost 18 years. In December, the White House ordered 7,000 troops, or half of its forces, to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan. At the same time, Washington is seeking to ensure the country doesn’t again become a haven for extremists.

With the Afghan government only controlling some two-thirds of the country, a political agreement with the Taliban appears to be the only way forward. If successful, today’s talks will be an important first step in that process. A formal meeting between a smaller group of officials will be the next step in what is likely to be a complicated and lengthy pathway to peace.

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