Afghan government representatives and Taliban officials are because of renew peace talks in Qatar after a three-week break, officials said on Monday, even if battlefield clashes and targeted killings risk undermining efforts to end the war.
The negotiations, because of get going again on Tuesday, are expected to cover contentious issues such as power-sharing and a ceasefire after the two sides reached an initial agreement on procedural rules in December.
The talks began in Qatar in September months after the Taliban reached an agreement with the USA allowing it to pull its troops out of Afghanistan and end its longest war in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.
The Taliban have refused to recognise the U.S.-backed government and that was once an issue that would should be tackled, said a member of the team representing the government.
“An interim government is an indisputable topic of discussion, because we wish a ceasefire and the Taliban aren’t in a position to agree to one with the current government,” the delegate, Hafiz Mansoor, told Reuters in Kabul before setting off for Qatar.
A Taliban spokesman did not respond to requests for remark.
Under the terms of the agreement the USA struck with the Taliban, the formation of a “new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government” would be decided through negotiations between the two Afghan sides.
President Ashraf Ghani’s government was once elected in 2019 for a five-year term but the Taliban rejected the election.
But relentless violence is over-shadowing the tender to find peace.
Government officials have in recent weeks accused the Taliban of a string of high-profile murders, including of bureaucrats and journalists, and bomb attacks.
The Taliban have rejected probably the most accusations but at the same time, they have got made gains against government forces in fighting in more than a few parts of the country.
The level of violence has prompted occasional intervention by Western forces.
On Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said U.S. forces had conducted air strikes against insurgents, terming it a violation of the agreement between the two sides.
A spokesman for U.S. forces, Colonel Sonny Leggett, said the strikes were defensive and not a violation of the agreement, and he called for a discount in violence.
European officials have also urged both sides to minimize hostilities and move quickly towards a settlement.
The US has been scaling back its presence in Afghanistan almost 20 years after it intervened with its allies to overthrow the Taliban in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities.
Afghan security officials expect the size of the U.S. force to dwindle to approximately 2,500 troops early this year.