While the working groups of the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban are expected to begin discussions on the agenda of the talks on Saturday, Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Thursday said that the republic's team has only one condition in these negotiations: that future leaders are voted in through elections.
Saleh said that there will be no compromise on the blood of the martyrs, the Afghan national flag and the women’s rights in the talks.
“We have only one condition, we do not have any other condition, our condition is that the leadership of the country must be selected through holding elections,” said Saleh as he accompanied Ghani in a trip to Nangarhar.
This comes a day after Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem on Twitter said that the intra-Afghan talks had resumed in Doha and the working groups from both sides would focus on the agenda of the talks on Saturday.
On December 12, negotiators in Doha reported that both sides had exchanged their lists about the agenda of the peace negotiations and that the next phase of the talks would begin on January 5.
The negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban last month agreed on procedural rules for the talks. Following their agreement, they held three meetings on the agenda of the negotiations and were expected to start the talks this week.
The negotiators reached an agreement on a 21-article list of procedural rules for the talks after three months of discussion, and have finalized an initial list for the agenda of the peace negotiations.
Last month, sources familiar with the matter said that a 28-article draft agenda has been handed to the Taliban by the Afghan team and the Taliban has given a 21-article agenda draft to the republic's negotiators.
“It was agreed that the two sides resume the peace talks in line with the agenda previously agreed upon,” said Ghulam Farooq Majroh, a member of the negotiating team, representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the talks with the Taliban.
“Today we convened our inter-party meetings, all preparations have been completed for the Saturday,” said Faraidoon Khawzon, a spokesman for the High Council of National Reconciliation.
Both teams have said that the second round of talks will be tough as they are set to talk about the future system and a ceasefire.
“The Taliban are not willing to enter into a partnership with this government, they also reject the constitution of the country, they want the constitution to be rewritten,” said Faiz Ahmad Zaland, a university lecturer.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a joint press point with Alexander Dobrindt, chairman of the CSU Parliamentary Group, on Wednesday said that 2021 will be an important year for the alliance in terms of deciding its military presence in Afghanistan.
“2021 also is a pivotal year for NATO because we need to decide on our presence in Afghanistan,” said Stoltenberg.
On the peace process, he said: “We welcome the peace talks that take place between Taliban and the government in Kabul.”
“There are many challenges, and many uncertainties, but of course, the peace talks are the only path to peace, the only way forward to a peaceful negotiated solution,” he said.
He also added: “We support those efforts, but at the same time we know that we will be faced with a very difficult dilemma."
“Next month, NATO's defence ministers will meet, and they need to decide whether to remain, whether to stay in Afghanistan with our military presence, and then risk being engaged in a prolonged military presence in Afghanistan, or whether to leave, but then risk that Afghanistan once again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
"The more important thing is that we need to make sure that Afghanistan doesn't once again become a safe haven for international terrorists," he said.
“We have to understand that the reason why we went in to Afghanistan back in almost 20 years ago was the attack on a NATO ally, the 9/11 against the United States, and Taliban has the committed in the agreement with the United States to make sure that they don't work with, they don't support, they don't help in any way provide any framework support for international terrorists,” Stoltenberg said.
Based on the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha on February 29, the US forces also need to leave the country within the next five months. However, US officials in the past have said that a complete drawdown will be conditions-based.