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Doha talks fail to yield breakthrough amid delays

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Paralysis has gripped the prelude negotiations between representatives of Afghan government and Taliban hardliners as they fail to strike a deal on a roadmap for peace talks

KABUL: A breakthrough in the prelude to Afghanistan peace talks has failed to materialise after more than a month of intensive negotiations.

Afghanistan is hopeful that a peace agreement with the Taliban could be reached to end the war by reconciling the militants with a power-sharing deal, but the preliminary talks that started a month ago have not produced a tangible outcome so far.

But, delegates of the Afghan government in Qatar who are meeting Taliban periodically say they hope an agreement could be reached on the ground rules and agenda of the talks.

The two sides have negotiated the rules, but the points of contention remain unresolved. Both sides have designated smaller contact groups which have not met in the past few days. But the Afghan side says an agreement will be reached in the coming days.

Najiah Anwari, spokeswoman for the State Ministry for Peace, said efforts were underway to reach a deal. “In the past week, there have been informal and individual talks between the two sides. Taliban are holding internal debates on the ideas and options proposed by the government of Afghanistan. The government’s negotiating team is attempting and hoping to reach an agreement on a roadmap in the next few days,” she said.

The Taliban have not yet said anything, but have previously insisted that their February agreement with the United States should be the basis for talks – which raised hackles and to which the Afghan government gave the cold shoulder.

This is as the United States and the international community insists that the Afghan government and the Taliban should reach an agreement, reduce violence, and begin key negotiations.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, said last week that the level of violence in Afghanistan was worrying at a time when the Taliban claim they are committed to peace and claim to have reduced the level of violence by reducing attacks in cities.

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