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Face-to-Face Peace Talks with Taliban Expected to Resume Soon

Taliban-CommanderTALIBAN: The stalled peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and Taliban are expected to resume soon in the wake of the quadrilateral meeting in Islamabad in which representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, U.S. and China discussed a roadmap for ending the 15 years long conflict.

Pakistan’s The Express Tribune news agency cites a top official as saying that direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives would resume within days. The news agency further cites the unnamed official as saying that the quadrilateral meeting in Islamabad on Monday reached a consensus that the peace process should be revived without any further delay.

Meanwhile, another Pakistani news agency citing a senior intelligence official as saying that the direct talks would resume next month.

The expected timeframe was offered separately, though, coinciding with the quadrilateral meeting yesterday in Islamabad when diplomats from four countries met to draw a roadmap for Afghanistan peace talks, The Nation reported on Tuesday.

The report further states that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s faction and the Haqqani network are considered to be more amenable to the pressure by Pakistan to come on the negotiating table.

“At best, we can convince three to four Taliban groups but it is yet to be decided which group will act as the head during the talks and whether it can influence all of the warring Taliban,” the unnamed security official has been quoted by the media outlet as saying.

He, however, expressed a grim view of the peace talks, predicting that they are not expected to yield any result.

“There are too many stakeholders involved,” the senior intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “And, what can Kabul really offer to the Taliban?”

The Pakistani official has also warned Afghanistan about its strong relationship with India saying that if they undermine Pakistan, the peace talks will not proceed.

“We want less and less influence of India in Afghanistan,” he is quoted as saying. “As long as Kabul and India try to undermine Pakistan, the talks will not succeed.”

Representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, U.S. and China agreed to expedite the process and organize the second quadrilateral meeting in Kabul next week.

“All four countries underscored the importance of bringing an end to the conflict in Afghanistan that continues to inflict senseless violence on the Afghan people and also breeds insecurity throughout the region,” stated a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs late on Monday.

“The meeting adopted terms for the work of the QCG and agreed to continue regular meetings to advance the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The group would hold discussion on a roadmap at its next meeting to be held on 18 January 2016 in Kabul.”

In the preparatory discussions, Afghanistan is represented by its Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Pakistan by its Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, U.S. by its Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard G. Olson and China by its Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Deng Xijun. -KP

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