The Afghan Government and the Taliban announced on December 2 that they had agreed on the procedures for the Intra-Afghan peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
The breakthrough was jointly announced by Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatar office, as well as Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan Government’s negotiation team.
“The procedures including its preamble of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations have been finalized and from now on, the negotiations will begin on the agenda,” the spokesmen said on Twitter. “The current negotiations of both negotiation teams show that there is a willingness among Afghans to reach a sustainable peace and both sides are committed to continuing their sincere efforts to reach a sustainable peace in Afghanistan.”
The breakthrough announcement was welcomed by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Government’s top peace broker Abdullah Abdullah.
The initial agreement was also praised by neighboring Pakistan, whose Foreign Ministry said the breakthrough is “another significant step forward.”
This was the first breakthrough since the launch of intra-Afghan talks between the government and the Taliban in Doha on September 12. The talks were facilitated by a U.S. peace agreement with the Taliban, which was reached on February 29.
The U.S. promised to withdraw all American and NATO troops from Afghanistan. However, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed on December 2 that the U.S. would keep two large bases and several satellite bases in the war-torn country.
Reuters quoted Milley as saying that the U.S. will also continue with anti-terrorism operations against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
“We went to Afghanistan … to ensure that Afghanistan never again became a platform for terrorists to strike the United States,” Milley said. “We believe that now after 20 years – two decades of consistent effort there – we’ve achieved a modicum of success.”
Despite the breakthrough, the Intra-Afghan peace talks are still facing many challenges. The Afghan Government and the Taliban will need more time to build trust. Any change in U.S. withdrawal plans may also hinder the talks.
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