Afghan Foreign Ministry Upbeat Over QCG Progress

Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Tuesday expressed its optimism over the progress made during the second Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) meeting on Monday in Kabul and said the four-nation group had agreed on the road map outlining the start to peace talks with the Taliban.

The QGC, made up of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China, had also agreed to continue regular meetings ahead of the start to the Peace and Reconciliation Process.

The group will hold its next meeting on February 6 in Islamabad.

The Afghan government wants to finish up with technical meetings as soon as possible and start peace talks with the Taliban, said the MoFA.

According to Khairkhowa Azad, the deputy spokesman for MoFA: “The QCG members have agreed upon general principles of the road map for peace talks and it has been decided that details will be decided on and agreed to at the next meeting.”

The first meeting was hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad last Monday, where the involved parties all agreed to the need to protect Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty.

“For the Afghanistan government it is important that talks and technical meetings finish as soon as possible so that the way can be paved for direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” Azad added.

Meanwhile the National Unity Government (NUG) Chief Executive’s Office said that government’s stance is clear and those groups who fail to stop their war on the government will face the full wrath of the military forces.

“The National Unity Government’s stance toward those Taliban who are ready for negotiations is clear and negotiations will take place but military operations will be continued against all terrorists groups [who fail to join the peace process],” said CEO spokesperson Mujibul Rahman Rahimi.

There were expectations that the second QCG meeting would have clear results and provide a venue and date for negotiations to start.

“However this time we are happy about the negotiations process but we should be cautious that the opposing sides do not waste time and take advantage of opportunities and do not deceive us,” said Toryalai Ghiyas a current affairs analyst.

“If the Afghanistan government has a strong will to bring about actual peace, even if it is time consuming, people will wait to experience real peace,” said Arifullah Pashton former senator.

However after the second QCG meeting, members urged the Taliban to join the peace talks with the Afghan government as soon as possible but sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told TOLOnews that before the third QCG meeting takes place, unofficial talks will be held with lower ranking leaders of the Taliban groups who are interested in peace negotiations.

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