Intra Afghan peace talks in China faces another setback

Intra Afghan peace talks in China faces another setback

ISLAMABAD - The intra-Afghan talks in China have been postponed again over objections at the composition of the Afghan government delegation.

Sources told Daily Times that Kabul has included ministers and senior officials in a list of 28 people that annoyed the Taliban political office in Qatar.

The talks were scheduled to be held in Beijing on Nov.21-22, according to diplomatic sources. They said China’s Special Envoy on Afghan Affairs Ambassador Deng Xijun had also shared dates with the Pakistani officials during his meeting in Islamabad on Nov. 13.

The meeting was scheduled to take place on October 29 and 30 but was postponed following a request from the Afghan government amid tension between President Ashraf Ghani and his political rivals over election results.

Taliban, who had earlier announced to send a big delegation to Beijing, has now criticized the Kabul administration’s list. Taliban do not oppose inclusion of the lower level officials in the Kabul team, according to Taliban officials. “Kabul has included ministers in the list of participants that is not acceptable to us,” a Taliban official told Daily Times on Sunday.

He rejected Kabul’s notion of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process and all delegates are Afghans and that the Taliban do not accept the presidential palace’s concept of the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process. He said Taliban will attend the Beijing conference if the list is changed.

Chinese diplomats have continued efforts to hold the talks between the Taliban and the Afghan political leaders.

Chinese ambassador in Kabul Wang Yu met acting Afghan Foreign Minister Idrees Zaman on Sunday and “discussed the details of intra-Afghan peace dialogue due to be held in Beijing, China,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said.

“The meeting focused on issues of mutual interest, including peace efforts. The Foreign Minister thanked the government of China for their continued support towards peace process in Afghanistan,” a statement said.

A senior Afghan government official said earlier this month that the government has finalized the list of participants for the China meeting on intra-Afghan peace talks.

The president’s senior adviser for strategic affairs, Wahid Omar said at a news conference that the list has representation of all groups of Afghan society. However, he had not disclosed names of the participants to avoid controversy.

China had planned the meeting at a time when the peace process between the Taliban and the US was stalled after President Donald Trump abruptly called off the peace process in early September following a suicide bombing in Kabul that killed an American soldier.