With no plans for peace talks on the horizon, Haji Muhammad Mohaqeq, the Second Deputy of Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, has expressed doubts that any progress has been made in the peace process after meeting with Taliban representatives in Norway last week.
Upon the conclusion of the meeting in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, which was the source of considerable hope when it was first announced, Mohaqeq said the views expressed by the Taliban representatives were unchanged from the past.
“There were five individuals from the Taliban, and there was no discussion or exchange of words,” Mohaqeq said. “In this conference, only views were presented; there wasn’t a major difference since the past, and I didn’t feel a great development in the peace process.”
Nevertheless, it appears the Afghan government is willing to take the first goodwill step toward real peace talks – officials have indicated leaders in Kabul may soon agree to allow the Taliban to open an official office in Qatar. Taliban leaders have said the opening of an office in Doha is a critical first step toward peace negotiations.
Although a Taliban office was established in Doha in 2013, after strong objections from former president Hamid Karzai over the office’s brandishing of the “Islamic Emirates” name, it quickly closed.
According to Taliban spokesmen, during Said Taib Agha’s trip to Norway last week, demands were made for the reopening of the office.
“One of the demands of the Taliban is reopening the Taliban office in Qatar,” Mohaqeq told TOLOnews. “If this office is solely used for the purposes of peace talks, there is a chance that the government might agree.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), meanwhile, has reiterated that the meeting in Oslo was not anything that would qualify as peace talks. “The Taliban were also present in this global summit, where the Taliban and Afghan government representatives only presented their ideas, but no form of official peace talks were held,” ministry spokesman Shekib Mostaghni said.
Over the past three months, Taliban representatives has met with Afghan representatives in Qatar, China, Norway and UAE.