Negotiators from the Afghan government, as well as the Taliban, have agreed on procedural rules to continue the peace talks in the Qatari capital of Doha, it was confirmed by both the sides.
“Today (Wednesday), the plenary meeting was held between two Intra-Afghan negotiation teams. In this meeting, a joint working committee was tasked to prepare the draft topics for the agenda,” TOLO News quoted Nader Nadery, a member of the government’s negotiating team in Doha, as saying.
“The current negotiations between both teams show that there is a willingness among Afghans to reach sustainable peace and both sides are committed to continuing their sincere efforts to reach a sustainable peace in Afghanistan” he added.
Also confirming the development, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that a general meeting of the two sides was held in Doha on Wednesday, and the joint committee was tasked with preparing the topics for the agenda of the talks.
“The current talks between the delegations from the two sides indicate that there is a will for peace among Afghans,” Naeem added.
The international community and Afghan leaders have responded positively to the news.
Deborah Lyons, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said the world body welcomes the progress achieved by both negotiating teams in the Afghan Peace Process.
“Moving on to the agenda is a positive development. This breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans,” TOLO News quoted Lyons as saying in a tweet on Wednesday.
Also taking to Twitter, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, said: “I welcome the news from Doha that the two Afghan sides have reached a significant milestone.
A three-page agreement codifying rules and procedures for their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire. The people of Afghanistan now expect rapid progress on a political roadmap and a ceasefire. We understand their desire and we support them.
“As negotiations on a political roadmap and permanent ceasefire begin, we will work hard with all sides for a serious reduction of violence and even a ceasefire during this period. This is what the Afghan people want and deserve.”
Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, welcomed the “initial major step” and thanked the “Republic’s negotiation team, all facilitators and the host Qatar for their valuable support”.
President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the development was “a step forward towards beginning the negotiations on the main issues, including a comprehensive ceasefire as the key demand of the Afghan people for a lasting peace”.
Both the teams had formed small groups called “contact groups” on the opening day of the talks on September 12.
The contact groups have held five meetings so far to discuss rules and regulations as well as the agenda of the negotiations.