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Afghan rivals conclude talks on ‘road map for peace’

AFP-JijiDOHA (AFP-Jiji) — Dozens of influential Afghans concluded two days of talks with the Taliban on Monday in Doha, laying the foundations for renewed negotiations between the United States and the militants.

The encounter ended with a joint statement pledging a “roadmap for peace” based on the opening of a monitored peace process, return of internally displaced people, and non-interference by regional powers in Afghanistan.

“Assuring women rights in political, social, economic, educational, cultural affairs as per [and] within the Islamic framework of Islamic values,” also featured in the joint text.

“It’s not an agreement, it’s a foundation to start the discussion,” delegate Mary Akrami, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Network, told AFP.

“The good part was that both sides agreed.”

The Taliban’s Amir Khan Mutaqi, a former minister during the militant group’s 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, read a Pashto version of the roughly 700-word statement.

Habiba Sarabi, deputy chair of the Afghan High Peace Council established by former president Hamid Karzai to engage elements of the Taliban, read the Dari equivalent.

Around 70 delegates attended the gathering at a luxury hotel in Doha and the large meeting room erupted into applause after the joint statement had been read out.

“The differences is almost so narrow... we are quite frankly surprised how serious both sides are and they are so committed to putting an end to this conflict,” said Qatar’s counterterrorism special envoy Mutlaq al-Qahtani.Speech

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