The two-day Intra-Afghan peace talks started here Sunday under Qatari-German auspices, bringing together dozens of high-profile Afghan politicians and civil society activists, as part of efforts to support the peace process in Afghanistan.
Addressing the opening session of the talks, German envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel expressed gratitude to all the Afghan factions involved in the Intra-Afghan dialogue, which he said is in support of efforts to reduce the suffering of the Afghan people.
He stated that Germany and Qatar had taken the initiative to hold such a dialogue because they wished to do their part to open the way for peace in Afghanistan. The ongoing talks between the United States and the Taliban provided a historic opportunity for the Intra-Afghan dialogue, which is hoped to turn into constructive negotiations, Potzel said, stressing that the future of Afghanistan cannot be imposed from outside but can only be achieved by the Afghans themselves.
He hoped the meeting attended by representatives, including women, from a cross-section of the Afghan society, will provide the opportunity to build a common understanding and to identify the issues to be resolved.
The German envoy said history would remember those who were able to put their differences aside for the benefit of their country.
Khalilzad speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Intra-Afghan dialogue
Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said Qatar's hosting of the Intra-Afghan peace talks pushes the peace process forward adding that it was a good and positive step which is in favour of advancing the peace process.
Speaking on the sidelines , Khalilzad said the Intra-Afghan talks should lead to negotiations that should eventually bring peace to the strife-torn country. He added there must be a series of dialogues and discussions before entering negotiations and the Intra-Afghan dialogue comes within the framework of reaching an agreement on the terms of peace among the Afghan factions.
He highlighted the participation of women in the Intra-Afghan dialogue, stressing the importance of women's presence in such forums. He said he was optimistic about the possible outcome of the Afghan peace talks.
Khalilzad is holding US-led peace talks with the Taliban in Doha. He has reported progress on all the issues discussed, especially the four aspects of the peace agreement, namely the existence of safeguards against terrorism, the withdrawal of troops, participation in Afghan internal dialogue and negotiations, and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
Officials from the US and Afghan Taliban are due to resume peace talks tomorrow. The talks will focus on agreeing on a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban assurances that international militant groups would not use Afghan territory as a base for attacks.
Qatar believes that the conflict in Afghanistan can only be solved through a peaceful resolution, not a military one, said Dr Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, foreign minister's Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution.
Addressing the participants, he said Qatar continues its efforts as a mediator to build trust, reach a sustainable ceasefire, achieve civilians protection and the release of prisoners. It is also trying to bring together the views of the concerned parties to reach a political solution that will ensure the achievement of peace, stability and prosperity for the Afghan people, which will in turn positively affect the promotion of regional and international peace and stability.
Dr al-Qahtani stated that the Intra-Afghan talks marked a milestone in the pursuit of peace in Afghanistan. He stressed that Qatar's leadership, people and government will remain a force of peace, love and cooperation with the Afghan people, the international community and other peace-loving peoples.