Peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan have started on Saturday morning in the Qatari capital Doha. Both sides say they want to end decades of unrest that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghans.
‘Afghanistan must be independent, with an Islamic system’
Negotiations were delayed for months after a dispute over the release of prisoners from both sides. A final agreement on the release of some 5,000 Taliban fighters was reached in mid-August.
Partly because of this, the talks started at a special moment: almost exactly nineteen years after a terrorist attack on the WTC towers in New York led to US intervention in Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, the United States and the Taliban buried the hatchet with a historic peace agreement, which at the same time ended the longest war in US history. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also attending the new talks.
“We have to overcome major obstacles in these negotiations, but Afghanistan must move away from the path of corruption and destruction. You (the Taliban and Afghan governments, ed.) Are going to decide which political system will lead to peace,” Pompeo said to both sides.
The United States has made it a demand to the negotiations that the Taliban will henceforth ‘guard’ Afghanistan and that the country will no longer be used as a base for terror groups. The Taliban’s chief negotiator did not address this in his opening statement. “Afghanistan must become an independent state, with an Islamic system,” he said.
Currently, several thousand American troops are still stationed in the country and are being gradually relocated to the United States. The United States should have completed the transfer by mid-2021.
A representative of the Afghan government said he was looking forward to the upcoming negotiations. According to the government, this requires continuous international aid, but both parties must be given the space to clash ‘respectfully’ with each other in certain areas.
The representative also addressed the coveted ceasefire. “The current violence against the Afghan population has no winner. Weapons must be deposited in all regions.”