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Abdullah to spearhead Doha talks

A Constitutional amendment to allow for a trajectory after Taliban talks now seems highly likely

AT News

KABUL: With Afghanistan on the cusp of marathon peace talks, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, is expected to visit Qatar to kick off negotiations with the militant Taliban.

Dr. Abdullah has signalled a lawful constitutional amendment if peace negotiations necessitate such a realignment.

In an interview with Al Arabia, he didn’t rule out the possibility, saying there is a mechanism for a constitutional amendment. He said he had always wanted changes in the Constitution, which would only happen through lawful and legitimate means. This comes as President had said last week the Constitution is a ‘red line for intra-Afghan talks.

Dr. Abdullah said that ceasefire will be on top of the agenda of Doha talks.

A source in the Ministry of Peace has said the Afghan government’s 21-member peace force is ready to travel to Doha, but the trip has fallen behind schedule because of “technical reasons and protocol” and could happen in few days.

No date has been set for intra-Afghan talks, the Taliban have said. Its spokesman Suhail Shaheen has also cited “technical problems” for the postponement.

Afghanistan’s peace committee has four women members. UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Debora Lyons, has highlighted importance of women’s emboldened role in peace talks. In a letter to UN Security Council, she said that participation of women in intra-Afghan talks is the best opportunity to ensure their future.

‘Prisoner release completed’

On Friday, both the Afghan government and the Taliban proclaimed a long-awaited end to a drawn-out prisoner exchange– including 400 dangerous Taliban prisoners, expect seven, a controversy over whom bedeviled the start of intra-Afghan talks for months.

A government official in condition of unanimity has said seven Taliban prisoners are still in government custody and will be taken Qatar under strict security. These prisoners are convicted of killing Australian and French soldiers. France and Australia has officially opposed their release.

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