Afghan government’s representatives and Taliban leaders Doha talks remained inconclusive. However, delegations from the Afghan government and the Taliban said in a joint statement on Sunday that they will meet again and plan to expedite peace negotiations after two days of inconclusive talks in Doha.
The negotiators from the rival sides, who have been in Doha since Saturday, said “the two sides committed to continue negotiations at a high level until a settlement is reached”.
For months, the two sides have been meeting intermittently in the Qatari capital, but have achieved little if any notable success. The discussions appear to have lost momentum as the Taliban fighters have made enormous gains on the battlefield.
Senior representatives of the Kabul government, including the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, flew in for two days of intensive talks as US forces are about to complete their troops’ pullout.
Ahead of the second day of talks, the Taliban’s Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada had said “the Islamic emirate strenuously favours a political settlement” despite the groups lightning victories on the ground.
But the Qatari facilitator of the talks said at the end of the two days that the sides had merely agreed to “work to prevent civilian casualties”, far short of previously agreed ceasefires.
“The two sides agreed to continue negotiations at a high level until a settlement is reached. For this purpose, they will meet again next week,” said Qatar’s counterterrorism envoy Mutlaq al-Qahtani, who oversees the Doha talks.
Taliban leader Akhundzada has said his group remained committed to forging a solution to end the war but slammed the group’s opponents for “wasting time”.
The Taliban capitalised on the last stages of the withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from Afghanistan to launch a series of lightning offensives across the country.
The group is now believed to control roughly half of the nation’s 400 districts, several important border crossings, and has laid siege to a string of vital provincial capitals.
The Taliban has long appeared to be united, operating under an effective chain of command and carrying out complex military campaigns despite perennial rumours of splits within its leadership.