The opening ceremony for talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents began in Qatar’s capital Doha on Saturday, marking the start of negotiations aimed at ending two decades of war that has killed tens of thousands of combatants and civilians.
The 19-year conflict is also the United States’ longest overseas military action, vexing three successive presidents.
The ceremony began at 9 a.m with a recitation from the Koran, followed by opening comments by Qatar’s foreign minister.
Major players in the process, including Afghanistan’s peace council chairman Abdullah Abdullah and Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also scheduled to speak.
Officials, diplomats and analysts say that although getting both sides to the negotiating table was an achievement, this does not mean the path to peace will be easy.
“The negotiations will have to tackle a range of profound questions about the kind of country Afghans want,” Deborah Lyons, the United Nations special