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Intra-Afghan dialogue in Qatar delayed for five days

11 April, 2019

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The anxiously awaited intra-Afghan dialogue in Qatar has been delayed for five days apparently after the Kabul administration failed to finalize its delegation for the face-to-face meeting with the Taliban, Afghan and Taliban officials said on Wednesday.

The talks were scheduled to be held on April 14-15 in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the Taliban have their political headquarters. The talks will now be held on April 19-21, according to Afghan officials.

President Ashraf Ghani met members of a high-level forum and decided to delay the meeting with the Taliban, officials said. Section of the Afghan media reported that several committees, which were assigned to prepare agenda and a list of participants, could not complete their work.

The 37-member Reconciliation Leadership Council decided to meet again on Saturday, a council statement said. Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen in Qatar also confirmed postponement of the meeting. However, he refused to offer more comments.

Preparations for Doha meeting, completion of the members of the council and the formation of the negotiating team were discussed in the meeting, Tolo TV reported, quoting the Reconciliation Leadership Council’s statement.

The assigned committees briefed the council delegates on the formation of government delegation for Doha meeting, an inclusive negotiating team and governments’ red lines in the peace talks, the statement said. Taliban and senior political leaders, including former President Hamid Karzai, in Moscow in early February in a major step towards the opening of intra-Afghan dialogue. President Ghani’s administration had stayed away from the Moscow meeting and even criticized the move. Qatari officials have encouraged the Taliban to meet representatives of the Afghan government, who will join other politicians in the talks, sources told Daily Times. A senior Qatari official, who is involved in Taliban-US talks, in his visit to Kabul this month also convinced President Ghani to send government representatives for the intra-Afghan talks, the sources familiar with the development said.
 
Taliban on Wednesday angrily rejected offer by the Kabul administration to join a consultative ‘joya jirga’ or grand assembly to discuss peace in the war-torn country scheduled to be held in Kabul on April 29.

“The Islamic Emirate – as a representative of the its nation – rejects such fake jirgas and any participation in them and asks all fellow countrymen to not become victims of enemy plots at such a historically sensitive juncture by abstaining from participating in such superficial jirgas,” a Taliban statement said.

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