Afghanistan, Taliban to set date for face-to-face meeting: official

Afghanistan, Taliban to set date for face-to-face meeting: official

PanARMENIAN.Net - Talks in Kabul Tuesday, February 23 between representatives of four countries trying to end Afghanistan's war with the Taliban are likely to set a date for a face-to-face meeting between the two sides, an Afghan official said, according to the Associated Press.

Representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are meeting in the Afghan capital for a fourth round of discussions setting conditions for eventual peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

Javid Faisal, the deputy spokesman for Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, told the Associated Press the delegates "should give a date for the first direct peace talks."

Delegates agreed at their last meeting in Islamabad on February 6 to work toward bringing the two sides together to restart a peace process — derailed last summer by the revelation that the Taliban's one-eyed leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for more than two years — before the end of February.

In remarks opening the meeting Tuesday, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani reiterated that details of the first proposed meeting would be announced before the end of this month, AP reports.

The four countries have called on the Taliban to enter peace talks with Kabul and work toward cutting violence that has killed thousands of Afghan civilians since the insurgency started almost 15 years ago.

Taliban leaders, who fled across the Pakistan border to escape the 2001 U.S. invasion, are believed to be harbored by Pakistani authorities, in particular the ISI intelligence agency, in cities including Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar. While Pakistan denies providing safe havens for the insurgents, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has led accusations that the Taliban are a proxy force for Islamabad's regional interests.

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