Chief negotiators from the Afghan Republic and the Taliban met on Sunday, but the working groups from both sides failed to meet on Monday to finalize the agenda for the talks.
Three meetings were held in the first days since the talks resumed on January 6, but the working groups from both sides have not met for the last six days
According to negotiator Nader Nadery, it was only the heads of the two teams and a limited amount of members who met on Sunday evening and discussed the agenda.
The lack of meetings was criticized by Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, who met with a number of foreign diplomats at a virtual event to discuss coordination around the peace efforts.
Abdullah said the peace efforts must be expedited.
“Our negotiating team is in Qatar. They’re back there on time. They had plenty of meetings with different stakeholders,” Abdullah said. “The guiding principles were approved by the leadership committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation.”
“The complication of the talks, delays in finalizing the agenda of the negotiations and both sides’ preparation for ending devastating conflicts have made the way to peace tough,” the Afghan parliament speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani said.
Referring to Afghan Republic chief negotiator Masoom Stanekzai’s meeting with the Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar and their chief negotiator Abdul Hakim Haqqani to Qatar on Sunday evening, the State Ministry for Peace Affairs said issues around the agenda of the talks and organizing of the next sessions were discussed.
Both sides have confirmed that the Republic team’s stance on adding ceasefire to the top of the agenda and rejection of this matter by the Taliban is one of the reasons behind the delay in ending work on the agenda.
“There is a difference in priorities,” former Taliban member Jalaluddin Shinwari said. “The Taliban wants to end factors for the war, but the government wants ceasefire.”
An increase in violence has once again raised concerns among Afghanistan’s allies who have consistently called for an immediate halt to conflict in the country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that he spoke with President Ashraf Ghani about the peace process.
Stoltenberg said that NATO’s position has not changed and “our presence is conditions based,” referring to the drawdown in the number of the US forces in the country.
“We continue helping the Afghan security forces to ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorism,” Stoltenberg said in a tweet.
Also, President Ghani spoke on phone with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, discussing the expansion of bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process.
The Presidential Palace said that in this conversation, the two sides “strongly denounced the Taliban’s ongoing surge in violence.”