Istanbul hosts Afghan Taliban talks with the government

KABUL: A quadrilateral intra-Afghan peace dialogue began on Saturday in the Turkish capital Istanbul, to find a negotiated end to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan, a reliable source said.

A participant of the meeting the gathering initiated on Saturday would last three days (until Monday), reported by Pajhwok Afghan News.

The report added that the peace dialogue was arranged in cooperation with the Turkish government.

Taliban’s Qatar Office members, Mullah Mohammad Rassoul faction members, the Afghan government representatives and Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) members were attending the huddle.

Rahmatullah Wardak represents the Taliban, Mullah Rauf and Abdul Halim the Rassoul group, Haji Dawajan Ahmadzai and Homayoon Jarir the HIA and Dr Basir, envoy of High Peace Council (HPC) head Karim Khalili speaks on behalf of the government in the session.

The source said similar meetings had taken place in Turkey between the sides last year, but media was kept in the dark about them.

The meeting comes as reports suggest the Turkish government has proposed the Taliban to open a political office in the country.

A spokesman for the HIA, Mohammad Nadar Afghan and another HPC official, confirmed the gathering in Turkey, reported Pajhwok. However, he said, Homayoon Jarir and Dawajan Ahmadzai had not participated in the gathering on behalf of the HIA.

Meanwhile, Jarir was a presidential advisor and both might be privately invited to the gathering.

Taliban admitted the peace negotiations but said no one from their supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah group was participating in the gathering.

However, a Taliban member named Rahmatullah Wardak was attending the gathering. Wardak, a former Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) employee had served as an intelligence operative in the Taliban regime. Wardak has been running a bee honey business in Dubai over the past few years.

According to the Taliban source, this was a third meeting of the kind taking placing between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Turkey. “But the recent (this meeting) is organised as a result of HIA leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar visit to the country.”

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