Saturday September 23, 2023

Fresh bid set to bring Afghans to table for peace deal

July 03, 2019

WASHINGTON: Rival Afghans will meet Sunday in Qatar, officials said, in a fresh attempt to make political headway as the United States seeks a peace deal with the Taliban within three months.

President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast Monday that he wants to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, but will leave a strong intelligence presence there to counter what he termed the “Harvard of terrorists.”

The Taliban, who on Monday killed six people with a powerful bomb targeted at Afghanistan’s defence ministry, have refused to negotiate with President Ashraf Ghani, and a previous attempt to bring the insurgents together with government officials in Doha collapsed in April in a dispute over attendees.

Germany, a key player in international support for the post-Taliban government, and Qatar, which maintains contacts with the militants, said that they jointly extended invitations for a dialogue in Doha on Sunday and Monday.

The Afghans “will participate only in their personal capacity and on an equal footing,” Markus Potzel, Germany’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in a statement released Monday by the United States. “Afghanistan stands at a critical moment of opportunity for progress towards peace,” he said. “An essential component of any process leading to this objective will be direct engagement between Afghans,” he said.