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Monday, 14 June 2021

Afghan peace talks should rotate among countries, envoy says amid stall

Russia will hold a conference on Afghanistan this week, while Turkey hosts talks next month as the United States seeks to shake-up the process, proposing an interim Afghan government

Reuters , Monday 15 Mar 2021
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Afghan peace talks, now stalled in Qatar, should be rotated to other venues, Afghanistan's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said, accusing the Qatari hosts of failing to push hard enough for the Taliban to reduce violence.

Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have been held in Qatar since last year, after the United States agreed to withdraw its troops. But violence has increased and the government accuses the militants of failing to meet obligations to reduce attacks.

Ambassador Javid Ahmad told Reuters peace talks should not be held in one fixed location, but rotate among venues in Europe, Asia, the Middle East or Afghanistan itself.

The Taliban, which opened an office in Qatar in 2013, were too "comfortable" there, he said. "We want the Taliban to get out of their comfort zone.”

"The Qataris could have used its role as a host to play a more active and decisive role in pushing the Taliban to reduce violence or declare a ceasefire," Ahmad said.

“They have not properly used their leverage, as a host to the Taliban ..., to push the group's leaders to declare a ceasefire or to visibly reduce violence."

Qatar's state communications office did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Qatar foreign ministry special envoy Mutlaq al-Qahtani told Reuters last month the Gulf state wanted to see a reduction in violence that could lead to continued peace and security.

Russia will hold a conference on Afghanistan this week, while Turkey hosts talks next month as the United States seeks to shake-up the process, proposing an interim Afghan government.

Ahmad said that the only way to achieve a transition of power was through elections. The Taliban have said they are committed to the peace negotiations.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration signed a troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban in February 2020 under which all international forces were expected to leave the country by May 1.

However, violence has risen and NATO officials say some conditions of the deal, including the Taliban cutting ties with international militant groups, have not been met, which the Taliban disputes.

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