Four-way Afghan peace talks begin today

Four-way talks aimed at reviving dialogue between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban will be held in Islamabad on Monday, officials said, with Pakistani authorities set to unveil a list of insurgents willing to negotiate. The meeting between representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States was announced in December. But Pakistani officials only confirmed the date on Sunday, having previously suggested they may take place later in the month. 

The so-called “roadmap” talks are meant to lay the groundwork for direct dialogue between Kabul and the Islamist group, whose bloody insurgency shows no signs of abating more than 14 years after they were ousted from power by a US-led coalition. 

But the Taliban themselves will not be present at Monday’s meetings, according to officials. 

“Based on the four-way agreement, Monday’s meeting will discuss the mechanism for peace talks,” Javed Faisal, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, told AFP. 

“The Pakistani government will present the list of Taliban who are willing to talk and those who are not interested in talks,” he added. Pakistan has agreed to cut off financial support to the Taliban fighters, including in Quetta and Peshawar, he alleged. 

A senior official in foreign ministry confirmed the meeting, adding that Islamabad would be represented by its foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry while Afghanistan would be represented by deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai. A first round of peace talks with the Taliban was held in July but collapsed after the Taliban belatedly confirmed the death of their founder Mullah Omar. 

News of the death led to infighting between senior Taliban leaders and the group’s new chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, which in turn led to the creation of a new faction headed by Mohamed Rasool in November. 

In December Mansour himself was shot and wounded near Quetta, apparently by one of his own men. 

But despite the internal rifts and the onset of winter, the group has continued to carry out brazen attacks.

Source: Agence France Presse