Afghan govt envoys accuse Taliban of snubbing talks

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Doha

Afghan government negotiators holding peace talks with the Taliban said on Tuesday that their opponents had been avoiding formal engagement for more than a week, an accusation the insurgents denied.

The two sides have been meeting in the Qatari capital Doha since September in a US-backed effort to contain the violence in their country, but the negotiations have already been interrupted by several long pauses.

“Peace and ending the violence are our people and government’s top priority,” tweeted Afghan government negotiator Nader Nadery. “To achieve this noble goal, the (government) peace negotiation team is committed and present in Doha.”
His message added that no formal meetings had been held for nine days and said “the other side is not willing to engage in talks to end the conflict and save lives”.
The Taliban rejected the suggestion they were putting off direct, formal engagement with the government side. “Reports that the intra-Afghan talks have been delayed indefinitely are false, and the two teams are in touch with each other,” said the spokesman for the Taliban’s Doha office, Mohammad Naeem.“No negotiations can be continuous and happening on a daily basis, since there may also be need for internal meetings.”

Afghan government negotiators are pushing for a permanent ceasefire and to protect governance arrangements in place since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban in a US-led invasion following the September 11 attacks that year.— AFP

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