A planned trip by the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Doha to attend the intra-Afghan negotiations has faced a delay because of preparations still needed to be made by the host country for international partners and the Taliban, according to the State Ministry for Peace Affairs.
The US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has also traveled to Qatar and will travel to the region “to promote the immediate start of intra-Afghan negotiations,” according to US State Department.
The negotiating team was expected to travel to Doha late last week.
“The list that was announced shows there was an attempt to end the internal rift so that they (republic's team) can enter the talks from a stronger position, but a consensus has not been formed, even after the announcement of the reconciliation council,” former NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil said.
The State Ministry for Peace Affairs spokesperson Najia Anwari said the negotiating team is waiting for Qatar to finish preparations to host the talks.
“The conditions for the presence of the negotiating team of Afghanistan in Qatar is ready. Some preparations from the Taliban are still underway and they are discussing ways to complete it. Meanwhile, our international partners and the host country also requires some preparations for the start of the talks,” Anwari said.
Sources familiar with the process said problems in the Taliban’s negotiating team and the transfer of the six controversial prisoners of the group to Doha are the main reasons behind the delay in the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations that were expected this week.
“Talks are still underway on some small technical problems like the stage and speeches. The transfer of the six prisoners will be completed today (Sunday),” said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, an analyst close to the peace talks.
Politicians said the delay will handicap the govt's side.
“They don’t have an agreement among themselves. They have not prepared an agenda for the negotiating team. I am afraid that the two sides' agenda will not match and then the Americans will force a decision in the fourth or fifth day of the talks like they did at the Bonn conference,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.
Sources familiar with the peace process said that Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will attend the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha. Washington so far has not confirmed Pompeo’s participation in the event.