05:31 GMT17 April 2021
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    According to the Afghan Foreign Ministry, Kabul is preparing for peace talks with the Taliban next week.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Afghanistan's government is due to begin peace talks with the Taliban next week, the Afghan Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Khairullah Azad said Tuesday.

    "It was decided that a meeting among Afghan, Pakistani, American and Chinese officials should be held in the first few days of January in order to map out the way forward for the peace talks [between the Afghan government and the Taliban]," Azad said, as quoted by the local broadcaster TOLOnews.

    Kabul's decision was taken during a recent visit by Pakistan's Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif, according to the deputy spokesperson. The peace talks will be open to those Taliban factions willing to negotiate with the government, while remaining factions will be fought collaboratively, he added.

    On Sunday, Sharif met with the Afghan leaders in Kabul with an aim to contribute to the peace talks between the government and regional militant groups. Joint action against Taliban groups refusing to take part in peace talks was agreed on during the meeting, according to media reports.

    Pakistan's participation will ensure talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban will also take place, according a member of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC), the broadcaster said.

    The Taliban has been seeking to enforce sharia law in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the 1990s. The group is known for numerous terrorist attacks against authorities and civilians in both countries. A number of military advances have been made by the group over recent months, including the capture of the regional capital Kunduz.

    In July, Islamabad hosted the first round of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which so far have stalled.


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