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July 9, 2015

Afghan govt, Taliban agree to halt major attacks

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July 9, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan government and the Taliban have agreed in their first round of negotiations that both sides will not launch a major attack against each other during the talks process.
The one-day meeting between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban representatives facilitated by Pakistan concluded in Murree on Tuesday with the participants agreeing to continue their deliberations after Ramazan.
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai led the Afghan government delegation.Of importance is the fact that both sides agreed on some sort of confidence building measures between them in the future so that there could be more trust. At present, the Taliban have not stopped their militancy inside Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a spokesman at the White House welcomed the talks which they hoped would lead to lasting peace in the region.While reports of the Afghan reconciliation talks have been circulating in Islamabad, Pakistan has publicly acknowledged its role in setting up the Murree meeting. The Foreign Murree meeting. The Foreign Office offered its initial comments, with the spokesman saying, “As part of the commitment to facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, a meeting was hosted by Pakistan between the Afghan government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan representatives. The meeting was held in Murree on July 07, 2015. The representatives of China and the US also participated in the meeting.”
Later the spokesman on Wednesday commented that representatives from both sides “were duly mandated by their respective leadership and expressed their collective desire to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region”.
The Murree meeting has created cautious optimism as those who matter in Kabul were representing the Ashraf Ghani government. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai led the Afghan delegation which included members of the High Peace Council, who have normally headed

peace talks delegation, together with representatives from the office of Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah.
The Foreign Office when questioned did not reveal names of the three-member Taliban representatives nor those representing Kabul.The original Afghan Taliban under the leadership of Mulla Omar have fragmented into several rival groups, some seeking peace while others intent on living by the gun.
“The foreign secretary was the facilitator from Pakistan side. I am not aware of the other things that you have asked,” the spokesman told The News when asked about the identity of the delegations and whether there were women representatives from Kabul.
The Foreign Office pointed out that the participants recognised the need to develop confidence building measures to engender trust among all stakeholders and “exchanged views on ways and means to bring peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. It was agreed that for lasting peace in the region, each side would approach the process in sincerity and with full commitment”.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who called the Murree talks as a “major breakthrough”, has already warned that there would be ‘spoilers’ .“There may be certain spoilers, but we should make sure that nobody tries to derail this process as it is not only the obligation of Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parties, but also the obligation of international community,” he said in a statement from Oslo.Pakistan said it was profoundly grateful to all sides including the United Nations for their willingness “to work towards bringing lasting peace in Afghanistan.”

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