Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban militant organization have held talks in the Qatari city of Doha with both sides expressing hope for “progress” and "solving the problems through dialogue."
The government delegation to the July 17 talks was led by Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. The Taliban team was headed by Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Abdullah said that all efforts must be focused on ending the war and achieving a political settlement, because Afghanistan’s problem has no military solution. To achieve peace, there is a need for flexibility from both sides, he said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Baradar pointed out that there have been “some problems” and “no progress” so far in the “intra-Afghan peace talks that have been going on for nearly 10 months.”
“But we should not be disappointed,” Baradar said, adding that the Taliban will make efforts to make the talks a “success” and help reach a “positive conclusion.
Baradar also insisted Afghanistan needs “a strong, centralized, and independent Islamic system” in Afghanistan to ensure the country’s stability.
Abdullah emphasized that the Afghan government’s delegation featured senior officials as well as “women and religious scholars.”
The talks are being held against the background of continued fighting across Afghanistan and the drawdown of international forces in the country that began in May. Taliban militants have launch several offensives and have overrun more than one-quarter of the districts in the country.
A major border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan partially reopened on July 17, days after the militants took control of the Spin Boldak border town from the Afghan government forces.
Thousands of people were left stranded on both sides of the border since Pakistan shut the crossing on July 14, the day Spin Boldak fell to the Taliban.
The AFP news agency quoted a Pakistani border official as saying on July 17 that Pakistan has decided to reopen the border crossing “purely on humanitarian grounds” to allow up to 4,000 Afghans stranded in Pakistan to cross over to Afghanistan to celebrate the upcoming Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha with their families.
The news agency said that hundreds of people were heading across the border to Afghanistan on July 17.