Next round of Afghan talks to begin in Doha on Jan 5

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KABUL: The next round of negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government would be held in Qatar from next month, a top official said on Sunday, despite President Ashraf Ghani’s recent calls for them to be moved home.

Peace talks began on September 12 at a luxury hotel in Doha, but negotiations are currently on a break until January 5.

“The second round of talks will begin on January 5 in Doha,” said Faraidoon Khwazoon, spokesman for Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, which is leading the peace process in the country.

“The leadership committee of the council… decided to hold the talks in Doha,” he tweeted, adding that many of the countries that had earlier volunteered to host the talks withdrew their offers because of Covid-19.

Pakistan reiterated its firm commitment for lasting peace in Afghanistan as the peace process “makes encouraging progress” and urged the two sides “to avoid accusations and to demonstrate wisdom”.

In a statement, meanwhile, the Afghan presidency tweeted that Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the council for national reconciliation, held a meeting on Sunday.

The two “discussed the venue for the next round of talks” after which Ghani announced the government’s support for a second stage of talks with the Taliban, the presidency said.