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November 21, 2020

Afghan govt, Taliban reach common grounds for peace talks

National

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November 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan government and the Taliban have resolved their key sticking points that had stalled ‘peace talks’ between the parties for weeks, sources told on Friday, clearing the way for negotiations to move forward.

Reports said the talks started September 12 in Doha but almost faltered shortly over disagreements about the agenda, the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations. Meanwhile, the sideline discussions helped negotiators to draw common grounds to go for full ‘peace talks.’ Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior Taliban leader based in Pakistan told the media that "sufficient progress" had been made.

The Taliban leader further said “We are close to an announcement and initiation of formal talks and for that a joint statement will be issued soon,” saying the announcement could come in the next few days.

A second Taliban source, also in Pakistan, confirmed that both sides had agreed on the basics to begin formal talks. A third source close to the Taliban had confirmed the development. While, an Afghan official close to negotiators in Doha told the media that both teams have now resolved several disputes, opening the path for talks.

Several members of the Afghan government’s negotiating team recently returned to Kabul for final consultations, after which President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah are expected to announce a breakthrough, the official said.

Among the sticking points so far, the Taliban and the Afghan government have been struggling to reach for a common language on two main issues. The Taliban have been insisting on adherence to the Hanafi School of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, but the government negotiators have different opinion on the issue, terming it could be discriminating for minorities and others.

Another contentious topic is how the US-Taliban deal will shape a future peace deal and how it will be referred to. The Doha peace talks opened after the Taliban and Washington had signed a deal in February, with the US agreeing to withdraw all foreign forces in exchange for security guarantees and a Taliban promise to start talks. Despite the talks, violence has surged across the country with the Taliban stepping up daily attacks against Afghan security forces. --AFP