Abdullah returns from Qatar after intra-Afghan talks

Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, has returned to Kabul following the much-awaited talks with the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha.

Abdullah and Mohammad Haneef Atmar, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, reached Kabul on Sunday night, reports TOLO News.

The contact groups from the Afghan government and Taliban negotiating teams held their first meeting on Sunday evening and discussed the agenda, guidelines, scheduling and other issues related to the direct peace negotiations.

The negotiating teams also held a meeting behind closed doors on Saturday after the opening ceremony where they created the contact groups.

On Sunday, the chief negotiator of Afghanistan Masoom Stanekzai at a joint press conference said: “There was a positive spirit. There wasn’t any effort to drive the negotiations towards controversial discussions.”

Abdullah said that the “violence should be reduced significantly with the start of the negotiations so that we reach a humanitarian ceasefire.”

The intra-Afghan talks opened in Doha on Saturday at a ceremony attended by senior officials from different countries, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ceremony was inaugurated by Abdullah.

A 21-member Afghan team, headed by former intelligence chief Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai, met Taliban to find a negotiated solution to Afghanistan’s prolonged war.

The talks were part of the historic agreement signed between the US and the Taliban on February 29 also in the Qatari capital.

They were to be held 10 days after the deal was signed but it kept getting delayed over the prisoner release issue between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The government claimed that it has freed all the 5,000 Taliban inmates, while the militant group has also completed the release of 1,000 government prisoners.

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