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2020-09-11 › Afghanistan’s Negotiating Team Heads to Doha for Talks

Afghanistan’s 21-member negotiating team led by Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai left Kabul for Doha on Friday afternoon to attend the much-awaited intra-Afghan negotiations that are expected to end the four decades of war in Afghanistan. 

All members of the negotiating team called Saturday a historic day for the country and said they remain hopeful for the results of the talks.  

The opening ceremony of the talks will be held on Saturday while the negotiations will begin on Monday, according to an official from the High Council for National Reconciliation. 

In a short chat with reporters, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said he remains hopeful but added that challenges should not be ignored.  

Other high-ranking officials from Afghanistan who will attend the opening ceremony of the talks in Doha on Saturday are Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, the State Minister for Peace Affairs Sayed Saadat Mansoor Naderi, and Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, head of the negotiating team.  

“We are looking forward to bilateral exchanges during the visit and engaging in substantive talks with the Taliban aimed at ending years of war and agony endured by our people,” Abdullah said in a tweet minutes before his trip to Doha. “On the basis of religious tenants, human values and our shared interests, we all seek a just, durable and dignified peace.”  

Fawzia Koofi, a woman member of the negotiating team, said she thinks the process will be complicated but added that she remains hopeful. “As far as the Afghan war is multidimensional, all dimensions of this war should be considered in the talks,” Koofi said.  

Another member of the team, Nader Nadery, said they head to Doha with the hope “to build an Afghanistan in which guns are silent, the republic values are strengthened, and Afghans achieve the development they deserve.” 

Abdul Hafiz Mansoor, a member of Afghanistan’s negotiating team, said they will pass on the message to the Taliban that they will not win by power and that the opportunity has been provided to end rifts through talks. He says he remains hopeful for results of the talks.’ 

The talks that were expected to begin back in March 10 days after the US-Taliban agreement on February 29, faced multiple delays over disagreements on the release of Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government.  

The Afghan government released at least 5,500 Taliban prisoners—5,000 of them on a list given to the government by the Taliban. There were disagreements on the release of 400 high-value Taliban prisoners whose release was later approved by the Loya Jirga, grand council, of 3,400 delegates early in August.  

France and Australia had opposed the release of six of the 400 controversial prisoners of the Taliban. The six prisoners were released and transferred to Doha on Thursday. 

The announcement about the start of the talks was widely welcomed by Afghanistan’s international allies.  

The United Nations in a statement said it welcomes upcoming face-to-face peace talks between Afghan parties in Doha, Qatar.  

“The suffering of the Afghan people has gone on for far too long. The UN joins the country’s brave and resilient people in urging all Afghan leaders and negotiators to seize this historic opportunity to end the fighting and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity,” the UN said in the statement.

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