Taliban, rival Afghans 'promise to reduce violence' - German envoy

Zabihullah Mujahid

Stakes are high for the talks which follow a week of US-Taliban negotiations with both sides eyeing a peace deal. "While they are holding talks in Qatar, every day in Afghanistan they are shedding more blood of innocent civilians", Ghani said.

"By conducting this terrorist attack, the Taliban showed a paradox in what they are saying and what they are doing".

Both sides have reported progress in the discussions before taking a break from the dialogue in support of Sunday's intra-Afghan meeting and they will resume discussions Tuesday.

Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban's office in Qatar, said they were pleased with the United States discussions so far. We also send out a Weekly K+R Update, bundling together all the kidnap, ransom and extortion news of the week in one easy to read newsletter. "We have not faced any obstacles yet".

The United States will not participate directly in the two-day summit, which has been organised by Qatar and Germany.

Last evening, the Taliban and the USA expressed optimism for peace in ongoing talks in the Qatari capital Doha.

"I was very upset when I heard about the attack in Ghazni, and when I received a phone call informing me of my family members injured in the attack, I could barely believe I am here to talk with the Taliban about peace", Afghani told Al Jazeera on Monday, her voice choking as she fought back tears. He added there must be a series of dialogues and discussions before entering negotiations and the Intra-Afghan dialogue comes within the framework of reaching an agreement on the terms of peace among the Afghan factions.

"Senior (Afghan) government people are here - the president's senior advisers... everyone, as far as the Afghan dialogue is concerned, is here in their personal capacity".

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A total of 18 candidates are set to compete in the elections, including current President Ghani, his power-sharing CEO Abdullah Abdullah, former National Security Adviser Mohammad Haneef Atmar, and seasoned former Mujahedeen leader Hekmatyar.

"We have to understand and admit ground realities as well like the presence and power of the Taliban, the existence of Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan are ground realities".

The July 7-8 intra-Afghan dialogue, organized by Qatar and Germany, is seen as an icebreaker that could lead to direct negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders.

He hoped the meeting attended by representatives, including women, from a cross-section of the Afghan society, will provide the opportunity to build a common understanding and to identify the issues to be resolved.

Trump has overturned U.S. policy on Afghanistan's neighbour Iran, a year ago pulling out of a nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers.

Talking to media, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, said that Qatar's hosting for the Intra-Afghan peace talks pushed the peace process forward. "We're still looking for the corners", he said.

"That's certainly progress for the Taliban, but not for the United States, which has repeatedly said that there can be no agreement until both sides agree on all the issues on the table", he underlined.

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