The meeting was confirmed on the official Twitter account of the spokesman of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, who said: “Talks will only be held with the US presence of representatives of some other nations.” He also gave a brief statement confirming participation of its political negotiators and added that representatives of the UAE, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance.
Afghan officials are not expected to attend today’s meeting, according to an Al Jazeera report but their presence in the UAE is seen as a significant step in efforts to get the two sides talking. So far, the Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, calling it a puppet of the US and insisting only on negotiating with US officials.
Announcing the meeting Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said: “Talks are being held in UAE. We hope this will end bloodshed in Afghanistan and bring peace to the region.” His remarks were made in a brief statement just before the negotiations opened in Abu Dhabi.
Three consecutive days of talks in Qatar had preceded the meeting in the UAE, according to a Taliban statement. The group operates its so-called “political office” from Doha.
Though the UAE’s attempt to help end the Afghan war is likely to attract praise, Abu Dhabi has often cited Qatar’s cooperation with the Taliban as an example of its support for terrorism and a justification for the Gulf boycott of Doha, which began in summer 2017.
In an interview on PBS, Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef Al-Otaibi listed Qatar’s hosting of the Taliban office as a reason for the Arab boycott. “I do not think it is a coincidence that you have the leadership of Hamas, the Taliban embassy and the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Doha,” he said.
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