Foreign ministers and representatives of almost 30 countries and international organizations in the region arrived in Doha on Friday to attend a planned signing ceremony for the US-Taliban deal, according to the political office of the Taliban in Qatar.
The signing is expected to happen on Saturday following a so-far successful weeklong period of a reduction in violence.
The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Kabul on Saturday, according to presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, who said the two key officials will announce a joint declaration with President Ashraf Ghani.
The declaration, he said, will be a reassurance of the US and NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan.
On his arrival in Doha, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi commented about the day's significance to TOLOnews:
“Tomorrow is a big day for Afghanistan and for Afghans. It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “Afghanistan is moving towards peace and reconciliation. So, tomorrow can set the tone for an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue.”
Uzbekistan’s foreign minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, who arrived in Doha on Friday, said he remains optimistic about the Afghan peace process, and that there is a need to work together to address the problems in Afghanistan, as it is regionally important.
“We want very much to be optimistic first, and, secondly, of course we welcome the peace process,” he said. “Uzbekistan is immediate neighbor of Afghanistan and over the past many centuries, we had very close humanitarian culture, economic ties with Afghan people.”
He added: “We have to work together to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan because this is in the common interest of all people of our common region.”
BBC reporter Lyse Doucet also commented on the significance of the event:
“We have to dare to hope, as so many are, that this will be many steps away from a devastating war and towards peace, but it will demand a lot of patience and a lot of political will on all sides," Doucet said.
Sources said that a six-member delegation from the Afghan government, entirely chosen by President Ashraf Ghani, is also in Doha to meet with the Taliban right after the US-Taliban deal, which is scheduled to be signed on Saturday.
But those familiar with the talks say the Taliban might not be willing to talk to the Afghan-government delegation.
“I think the arrival of the delegation was a little early,” said Sami Yousafzai, a freelance journalist in Qatar. “The Taliban, ultimately, will have to talk to the Afghan government for the release of their prisoners but it was required that the (Afghan government) delegation would have been here after all the issues concerning the peace deal are solved.”