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Intra-Afghan talks agree ‘roadmap to peace’

Members of Afghan delegations gather during the second day of the Intra Afghan Dialogue talks in the Qatari capital Doha on July 8, 2019. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The conference brought together some Afghan government officials and senior Taliban

A landmark peace conference between the Taliban and influential Afghans, including government officials, has agreed a “roadmap for peace” that could hasten the end of the 18-year war.

A statement called for an end to civilian casualties and the protection of women’s rights within an “Islamic framework”.

The non-binding agreement comes as the US and Taliban continue to negotiate an end to the war.

The US toppled the Taliban in 2001.

A seventh round of talks between American negotiators and the insurgents is expected to resume later on Tuesday. They hope to reach an agreement that would see US troops withdraw in return for a commitment that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

The Taliban is refusing to hold direct negotiations with the Afghan government until the US announces a timetable for the withdrawal.

But the two-day conference in Qatar, which saw senior Afghan officials attend in a personal capacity, is seen as having laid the ground for formal talks in the future.

“Afghans meeting with the Taliban was a big success,” US lead negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters on Monday.

“It’s not an agreement, it’s a foundation to start the discussion,” Mary Akrami, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Network and a delegate at the conference, told the AFP news agency. “The good part was that both sides agreed.”

The so-called roadmap for peace is based on conditions including the repatriation of displaced people and “zero interference” from regional powers. The joint statement stressed that Afghanistan was “suffering daily”.

“Afghanistan shall not be the witness of another war in the country and [an] intra-Afghan agreement between different levels of the society is vital and crucial,” it said.

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Media captionThere were tears, hugs and selfies as Afghan troops and Taliban marked a truce for Eid in 2018

More than 45,000 members of the security forces have been killed in the conflict in the past five years. In just the first three months of this year, 581 civilians were killed and nearly 1,200 injured, according to the UN.

The commitment that both sides would reduce civilian casualties to zero came a day after a Taliban car bomb targeting a government building in the town of Ghazni killed 14 people and wounded many school children.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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