Govt yet to form ‘inclusive’ negotiating team

KABUL (TOLO News): As Afghan politicians are preparing to attend another meeting in Moscow format with the Taliban later this month, a senior official from President Ghani’s Office said on Friday that the Afghan government so far has not formed a “national and inclusive” negotiating team.

Ghani’s administration vowed last month to form such a team as it was a demand by the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

The first round of Moscow talks was held last month between Afghan politicians and the Taliban in absence of the Afghan government.

Haroon Chakhansuri, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman, said the Afghan government will not attend meetings in Moscow format, referring to the scheduled meeting in Doha.

“Afghanistan’s government will not participate in meetings in Moscow format,” Chakhansuri said. “The Afghan government will attend in such meetings if they are government-centered and face-to-face meeting (between the Afghan government and the Taliban).”

Government has already started working on forming a national team which will represent all layers of the society. The team will replace the 12 members of a previously-announced team by President Ghani.

The new team should be a national team which can help give success to the peace talks, said Habiba Sarabi, the deputy chairperson of the High Peace Council.

“The delegation should be a mixed and a national delegation who will have success (in the peace process),” Sarabi said at a gathering in Kabul on Friday.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Ambassador to Kabul, Oguzhan Ertugrul, said peace will come to Afghanistan if the Afghans sit together and also create a national consensus in this regard.

Ertugrul said Turkey is ready to provide any kind of support to the Afghan peace process.

“For a lasting peace in Afghanistan, talks between the Afghans is a need. Regional consensus also is very important, and Turkey is ready for any kind of help in this regard,” said Ertugrul.

Efforts for holding the next round of meeting between the Afghan politicians, Taliban and possible participation of the Afghan government delegation are underway amid the talks between the US negotiators and Taliban members have entered their 12th day in Qatar.

“The two sides are optimist about the talks and I think all the issues will not be completed in this round of talks and the talks will enter to their sixth round,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.

“If the Taliban wants to live in Afghanistan with the Afghan government and the Afghan people, they should come and talks with us,” said Frozan Rasuli, deputy head of Equality for Peace and Democracy Organization.

On Wednesday, the US Department of States said that US and Taliban talks are sharpened and now they are discussing four core and interconnected issues that reaching an agreement on them, would lead to peace in Afghanistan.

According to the Department of State, the four core issues include intra-Afghan dialogue, withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, counterterrorism and a ceasefire.