Kabul, 2 December 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Procedures for intra-Afghan peace talks have been finalized, paving the way for the Afghan government and the Taliban to start discussions on the agenda.
A member of the government-led negotiating team, Nader Nadery, and Taliban political spokesperson Mohammad Naeem issued the same statement to announce the breakthrough.
The development comes two and a half months after the start of peace talks between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban militants in the Gulf state of Qatar.
The US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the United Nations envoy for the country, Deborah Lyons, were quick to welcome the progress, as was NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
“I welcome the news from #Doha that the two Afghan sides have reached a significant milestone: A three-page agreement codifing rules and procedures for their negotiations on a political road map and a comprehensive ceasefire,” Khalilzad wrote in a series of tweets.
The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan called it a positive development, adding that “this breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans.”
Stoltenberg welcomed the breakthrough, saying it is an important step, but stressed to reporters in Brusssels that there are many hurdles to go.
The Qatar talks, which started on September 12, have been taking place against a backdrop of continued violence in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has refused to enforce a ceasefire.
The Afghan-Taliban talks came off the back of a Taliban-US deal earlier this year, which aimed for a conditional withdrawal of Washington’s forces from the country in 2021, after nearly two decades of war.
It is not clear how the incoming US administration of president-elect Joe Biden will affect the Afghan conflict.