The Afghan negotiating teams held a general meeting in Doha for the third time last night, according to sources familiar with the talks.
In statements issued from both sides, it was stated that the two teams discussed the contested procedural rules of the formal talks, and the contact groups from the two sides were assigned to agree on the contested items soon.
Sources have said that last night’s meeting was aimed at finalizing disagreements about the disputed points and accelerating the peace process.
According to sources, the two sides agreed to sit again last night following diplomatic pressure from the countries involved in the Afghan peace process including the US and Pakistan.
“This evening, a general session took place between the negotiating teams of Intra-Afghan negotiations. Both teams' heads recommended and talked about this process to be pushed forward in a good manner,” said Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban.
Sources in Doha have said that one of the key points discussed in the meetings was the presence of a facilitator in the process.
According to the sources, if both sides of the negotiations agree on the presence of a facilitator, this will help them to agree on the disputed points easily.
“We expect the opponent side to either bring a new idea about resolving the disputed points or respect the ideas of the two sides, or accept one of the recommendations that we suggested,” said Rasoul Talib, a member of the republic’s negotiating team.
One of the suggestions, sources from Qatar said, is adding the UN Security Council Resolution to the talks along with the US-Taliban deal to be part of the framework of the negotiations. The resolution does not recognize the Islamic emirate of the Taliban and has mentioned the republic as the government in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has not said anything about the alternatives and the UN Security Council’s resolution. However, the Taliban insists that without considering the US-Taliban peace deal as the main agreement, the intra-Afghan talks will not have meaning.
“If there is no foundation, moving forward without it will not make sense,” said Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban.
The two sides have agreed on 18 out of 20 articles for the procedural rules, but two main articles—the religious basis for the talks and connection of the US-Taliban deal with the negotiations—remain unsolved. The Taliban insists that if a dispute emerges during the negotiations, the solution must be sought using the Hanafi jurisprudence and that the foundation for the talks should be the peace deal that the group signed with the US in late February.
But the Afghan republic's team has rejected the Taliban’s demands and has suggested some alternatives.
The peace negotiations between negotiating teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban started on September 12; however, so far, direct talks have not started because of disagreements on procedural rules for the negotiations.
More suggestions have been put on the table to overcome the rift between the two teams, which include the religious basis for the talks and the connection of the US-Taliban deal with the negotiations.
The Doha talks officially commenced one month ago on September 12 with the hope of ending of decades of war in the country. So far, the contact groups of the two sides—set up to discuss procedural rules—have held eight meetings.