Afghan government and Taliban officials said Wednesday they have reached a tentative agreement to advance peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war, hailed by the United States as an opportunity to end the violence. The three-page document has not yet been published. “This agreement shows that the parties to the negotiations can agree on difficult issues,” Khalilzad said. The agreement was held in pre-trial detention last month after the insurgents opposed the document because it specifically mentioned the Afghan government. The agreement points to the way forward for the debate, but it is seen as a step forward because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including ceasefire talks, even though Taliban attacks on Afghan government forces have continued unabated. After months of talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, the agreement is being negotiated by the United States. In Afghanistan, both sides are still at war and Taliban attacks on government forces continue unabated. ” (The agreement) is a step forward towards opening negotiations on the most important issues, including a comprehensive ceasefire as a central demand of the Afghan people,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani`s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said on Twitter, quoting the Afghan leader. The agreement between the United States and the Taliban promised that “up to 5,000” Taliban detainees would be released by the Afghan government before the negotiations, in exchange for 1,000 members of the security forces held by the militants. Key players such as Qatar, which is hosting the talks, and neighbouring Pakistan, whose government and army have helped pressure the Taliban to bring them to the negotiating table, also welcomed the agreement, which Doha described as a “milestone.” The Afghan government and Taliban negotiators in Qatar have agreed on the principles and procedures that will guide ongoing peace talks between them, the Taliban and Afghan government officials announced Wednesday, an important step that could pave the way for talks hampered by disagreements for more than two months. The Afghan government refused to include the agreement in its agreements with the Taliban because the government had not participated in the agreement. To solve the problem, the February agreement is mentioned, but the guidelines referred to at least one other framework document, officials said. U.S.
Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter that the two sides had agreed on a “tripartite agreement that codifies the rules and procedures of their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire.” The agreement to advance the substantive negotiations was welcomed by the United Nations, representatives of the countries in Kabul, Pakistan`s Afghan neighbour and Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, who called the announcements by the Afghan government and the Taliban an “important milestone” on Wednesday. The agreement comes after months of talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, encouraged by the United States despite continued violence.