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First direct meeting between the representatives of the High Peace Council (HPC) and the Taliban

 On 9 July, 2015 a delegation headed by Mr. Haji Azizullah Din Mohammad, senior member of the Executive Board of the HPC participated in a press conference to share with the media the details of the meeting between representatives of the Afghan Government and the Taliban movement that was held on 7 July, 2015 in Muree, a touristic region of Islamabad, Pakistan.

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Members of the delegation were Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Mr. Mohammad Asim, Mr. Mohmmad Natiqi, Mr. Aasadullah Sadati and Mr. Farhadullah Farhad who also shared their insights about this meeting.

At the outset, Mr. Din Mohammad provided a short history on how the peace process actually started and how the series of indirect talks continued in the past. “Since its inception, the High Peace Council has had several meetings and indirect talks with the Taliban and other armed groups on the sidelines of the conference or in the form of different types of forums or other programs” he added. He also reiterated that the HPC has tirelessly played an instrumental and facilitating role in this process. It has always favored such encounters and has made tremendous efforts to reflect these events as effective steps towards reaching an intra-Afghan dialogue that could eventually lead to a political settlement. “In its efforts to achieving peace, the HPC has suffered many sacrifices. Assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, the first and former Chairman of the HPC and other members of this council and dozens of members of the Provincial Peace Councils (PPCs) are of the examples of such sacrifices at both national and provincial levels”. He clarified.

The Head of the delegation also added that after the formation of the National Unity Government and as a result of the efforts made by the President of Afghanistan, His Excellency Dr. Ashraf Ghani the peace efforts have significantly been accelerated lately. Meetings in Oslo, Qatar and Dubai could be seen as the primary stages of the start of such an important process. Fortunately, the efforts of the government of Afghanistan and cooperation of countries like Pakistan and other countries in the region and the world, provided and enabling ground for the authorized members of the leadership council of the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Afghan delegation.

The head of the delegation added that following points could be seen as important achievements of these direct talks with the Taliban:

  1. 1.All participants attended this meeting with a positive spirit and commitment to the country to achieve a peaceful settlement to the Afghan problem.
  2. 2.All participants agreed to convert these ad-hoc meetings to a process of broader understanding where both parties will move forward with sincerity to ensure security and lasting peace in Afghanistan.
  3. 3.Arriving to an agreement on further confidence building measures and preparing a list of basic demands and concerns. These issues will be further clarified in the future stages.
  4. 4.Reaching an agreement on an exact date, venue and agenda of the next meeting after Eid-ulfiter where detailed discussion will take place on developing a mechanism to put an end to the killing and shedding the blood of innocent people.

Later on, delegation members answered journalists’ questions. Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, a member of the delegation in response to a question from journalists said that the Afghan president intends to meet leaders of the regional countries on the sidelines of the upcoming Shanghai meeting where he will discuss the Afghan Peace Process and will seek to garner further support of these countries.

Faizullah Zaki, another member of the delegation said in response to a question that as the president of Afghanistan well- noted, the government has clear red lines during the negotiations, and these red lines are the first chapter (the authority of the state is Islam), and chapter II (rights and obligations of the citizens of Afghanistan) of the Afghan constitution. These chapters will remain unchangeable while other demands of the Taliban can be constructively negotiated for amendments.

Mr. Mohammad Natiqi a member of the delegation said that a major difference between the past and the current talks is the initiation of direct and formal talks between the members of the leadership council of the Taliban with the Afghan government.

At the end of the conference, Engineer Mohammad Asim provided his inputs on the composition of the delegation of the Taliban-side and said that they had the authority to represent the leadership council who participated in this meeting with the permission of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor.

Members of the delegation expressed their gratitude for holding first ever meeting between the Afghan government by thanking Pakistan for facilitating and hosting and the US and China for observing this meeting.