The first day of the landmark intra-Afghan peace dialogue in Doha, Qatar ended on Sunday with positive messages from the participants.
Co-host Potzel Markus, German envoy on Afghanistan, and Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, special envoy of foreign minister of state of Qatar, opened the dialogue in the capital Doha.
“We have taken the initiative for this dialogue to pave the way for peace in Afghanistan. Talks cannot be enough. Dialogue has to turn into meaningful negotiating process. Afghanistan’s future can only be determined by Afghans,” German envoy said on Twitter.
The seventh round of Afghan peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban are paused in Doha for two days as a group of Afghan politicians and civil society activists hold intra-Afghan dialogue at the same venue.
Visuals circulating on the social media showed a number of Afghan politicians sharing dining tables with the leaders of the Taliban in an apparent cordial environment.
The U.S. and Qatar have welcomed the talks.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed content over the intra-Afghan peace dialogue.
“... It’s great to see senior government, civil society, women, and Taliban representatives at one table together”, he tweeted.
The Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani welcomed different Afghan representatives in Doha and expressed hope for a constructive dialogue that meets the aspirations of Afghan people for peace and stability.
Although the Afghan government is not officially represented at the intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban, a number of top officials from Kabul are attending the talks in their personal capacity.
While the meeting was underway, a massive Taliban-claimed suicide car bombing killed at least 12 people and injured 50 others in Afghanistan's restive centre Ghazni province. Many victims were school children.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani termed the attack “a crime against humanity” and said Taliban by perpetrating such acts, once again revealed their clear hostility against the people of Afghanistan.
On Saturday, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, called in a series of tweets the last six days of talks with the leaderships of the Afghan insurgents “most productive session to date”.
By Shadi Khan Saif in Kabul, Afghanistan