Next round of Afghan govt-Taliban talks to be held in Murree on Friday

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Like the first round of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban was held in Murree, the two sides are again set to meet in the same venue on Friday with an aim to bring lasting peace in the war-torn country and the region.

“It is an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace initiative. We are here to facilitate,” an unnamed Pakistani government official said.

Next round of Afghan govt-Taliban talks to be held in Murree on Friday

The official said that the second round of negotiation between the two sides would be more substantive and detailed.

However, according to another official, someone should not have very high expectations from the talks.

“This is just the beginning of a long process. Both sides will have to understand each other’s positions and make a determined effort to meet half way,” he said.

“We expect both sides to discuss confidence-building measures including steps to bring down the level of violence before they move on to discuss the more complex issues to end the conflict in Afghanistan.”

The sources said that though the ceasefire and inclusion of Islamic clauses in the Afghan Constitution as demanded by the Taliban will be on agenda. However, it is unlikely that an agreement will be reached on these.

The first round of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban were held in the hill resort of Murree near Islamabad on July 7 at which the representatives from the United States and China also participated as observers.

“The participants exchanged views on ways and means to bring peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. It was agreed that for lasting peace in the region, each side would approach the process in sincerity and with full commitment,” the Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said in a statement on July 8.

“The participants recognized the need to develop confidence building measures to engender trust among all stakeholders,” Qazi Khalilullah said.

The spokesman said that the participants agreed to continue talks to create an environment conducive for peace and reconciliation process.