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Iran Press TV

Kabul-Taliban peace talks set for end of July: Official

Iran Press TV

Fri Jul 24, 2015 12:44PM

Representatives from the Afghan government and the Taliban will hold the second round of their peace negotiations in late July, an Afghan official says.

A member of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC), which represents Kabul in the negotiations with the militants, made the announcement on Friday.

"The second round of talks... is set for July 30 or 31," said Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, adding that Kabul will insist on reaching a temporary ceasefire with the militants amid soaring attacks on government forces and civilians in various parts of Afghanistan.

The two sides met for the first time on July 7 in a tourist suburb of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, with officials from China and the United States supervising the negotiations.

The meeting ended with no clear date and location set for the next round, although Qasimyar said that the talks would most probably be held in China's Urumqi, the capital of far-west Muslim-dominated Xinjiang Province.

Other sources in the HPC said that China's hosting of the meeting had not been confirmed.

"The talks... are set for July 30 but discussions and consultation are ongoing between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China on where to host the meeting," said Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a deputy chairman at the HPC, adding, "Which country will be hosting the meeting has not been confirmed yet."

The budding peace process has been marred by reports of deepening divisions within the Taliban ranks, with reports saying that some top figures in the group have boycotted any negotiations with Kabul.

An unnamed source in Taliban's governing council said, "This time, if the talks are held and representatives from our political office of Qatar do not attend, these negotiations will be unacceptable to us."

"This time our delegation from Qatar political office should be part of negotiations," he said. Taliban has been running a political office in Doha since 2013.

However, Taliban's invisible leader, Mullah Omar, has endorsed the negotiations as "legitimate," ensuring international mediators that the nascent peace process has the backing of the group's leadership.

Taliban launched its annual summer offensive in April, sharply increasing its deadly attacks on civilians and government forces. That has raised fears of return by the militant group almost 13 years after it was removed from power following the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

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