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Afghan and Taliban Negotiators Agree on Peace Talks’ Procedures

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Afghan authorities and Taliban negotiators in Qatar have agreed to the rules and procedures that can information the continuing peace negotiations between them, Taliban and Afghan officers introduced on Wednesday, an essential transfer that might pave the way in which for talks which have been hobbled by disagreements for greater than two months.

“The process together with its preamble of the negotiation has been finalized,” Nader Nadery, a member of the federal government’s negotiating staff, said on Twitter. Nearly concurrently, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban, posted an almost similar tweet written in Pashto.

Having resolved questions on methods to conduct the talks, negotiators will doubtless transfer on to concentrate on a political highway map for either side and a long-term, nationwide cease-fire.

The settlement comes after either side have been on the precipice of a breakthrough final month. Taliban and authorities negotiators had agreed in precept to roughly two dozen procedural factors, Afghan officers stated, however a concrete settlement was stonewalled by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani when he directed the federal government negotiating staff to incorporate at the least yet another situation: that the federal government be referred to by its formal identify, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, within the guiding paperwork.

A lot of these particulars have damaged down efforts to barter earlier than. The Taliban’s previous insistence on being known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the identify of their authorities once they have been in energy within the Nineteen Nineties — derailed an effort at talks in 2013.

Officers stated Mr. Ghani had doubtless tried to delay the talks in hopes that the incoming Biden administration would backtrack on the continuing U.S. troop withdrawal or alter its method to overseeing the peace negotiations. Beneath President Trump, Afghan officers complained bitterly that they have been excluded from U.S.-Taliban peace talks, and have been bullied into components of the method for political expediency.

In an announcement Monday, Sediq Sediqqi, an Afghan presidential spokesman, rejected any such claims over the stalled negotiations, saying that Mr. Ghani is “steadfast in his resolve to make the peace talks succeed.” On Wednesday, Mr. Sediqqi stated the Afghan president “welcomes the finalization of the negotiations procedures.”

How either side settled their procedural disagreements isn’t precisely clear, however two Afghan officers acquainted with the talks stated that Wednesday’s settlement was reached with out the inclusion of the Afghan authorities’s official identify, nor point out of the Islamic Emirate within the paperwork.

The agreed-upon rules did resolve a reference to the Hanafi college of Islamic thought, one of many 4 main Sunni faculties, which can also be the muse of the present Afghan Structure. Initially, the 2 sides have been at odds on a formulation that doesn’t alienate different sects, significantly Afghanistan’s Shiite minority. The officers stated that dispute was resolved in favor of the Afghan authorities’s method and disagreements will likely be as a substitute referred to a non secular committee.

The inclusion of the Feb. 29 agreement between the Taliban and the U.S. authorities was one other level of rivalry. That deal settlement began the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces in change for counterterrorism pledges from the Taliban and the discharge of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

The Afghan authorities balked at together with the settlement in its preparations with the Taliban, as the federal government was not a celebration to the deal. To resolve the difficulty, the February settlement is talked about, however the pointers included a nod to at the least one different framing doc, the officers stated.

“As negotiations on a political highway map and everlasting cease-fire start, we are going to work arduous with all sides for critical discount of violence and even a cease-fire throughout this era,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. particular envoy for Afghan peace, wrote on Twitter Wednesday, shortly after the announcement. “That is what the Afghan individuals need and deserve.”

The months of talks in Doha, Qatar’s capital, have been marked by near-constant violence in Afghanistan because the Taliban moved to take territory within the south and north earlier than winter. No less than 205 Afghan safety forces and 196 civilians have been killed as a ensuing of the combating in Afghanistan in November, according to data compiled by The New York Occasions.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff reported from Geneva, and Fatima Faizi reported from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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