CEO of the National Unity Government (NUG) Abdullah Abdullah said on Sunday at a press conference after his trip to Saudi Arabia that “most of the Taliban’s leaders are based in Pakistan.”
“Taliban’s trip to Pakistan is not news because they are there and carry out all their activities from there,” Abdullah said in response to a journalist’s question.
Regarding the government’s secret peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, Abdullah said: “I don’t know details over government’s peace talks with Taliban in Qatar.”
This comes after senior members of the Taliban’s political commission based in Qatar travelled to Pakistan for discussions with security officials about possible peace talks with the Afghan government, the Guardian reported Saturday.
Reports also emerged last week that a Taliban delegation held secret talks with Afghan officials in Doha, Qatar recently and the Guardian reported that three Taliban officials left Doha on Wednesday for talks with Pakistan officials.
The Taliban said the discussions being held in Pakistan follow successful contacts made with both Afghan and US officials in recent months.
Abdullah meanwhile said that during his trip to Saudi Arabia he discussed the Afghan peace process and that Saudi officials “showed interest in helping Afghanistan in the peace process. We also talked about the peace agreement with Hekmatyar.”
More than a month ago the Afghan government signed a peace agreement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami party.
Abdullah said that at the meeting “terrorism issues were also discussed with Saudi Arabian officials – which is a threat to the region” and added that “Saudi Arabia also had same views over fighting against terrorism.”
He said that during the trip he also discussed economic cooperation between the two countries, investments in Afghanistan, Afghan issues and also cultural cooperation.
“A delegation will come from Saudi Arabia to look at investing in the economic sector and other sectors in Afghanistan,” he said.
He added they also asked about increasing of education scholarships for Afghans which they agreed on.
“Discussions were also held over building of a clinic in Afghanistan. This will start soon,” according to Abdullah.