Afghanistan’s warring sides started negotiations for the first time, bringing together the Taliban and delegates appointed by the Afghan government on Saturday for historic meetings aimed at ending decades of war.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the opening ceremony in Qatar, where the meetings are taking place and where the Taliban maintain a political office.
“Each of you carry a great responsibility,” Pompeo told the participants. “You have an opportunity to overcome your divisions.”
While Saturday’s opening was ceremonial, the hard negotiations will be held behind closed doors and over a number of sessions. But following a meeting with the Taliban on Saturday in Doha, Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the U.S. and every Afghan would like to see a deal “sooner rather than later.”
The sides will be tackling tough issues in the negotiations, which will include the terms of a permanent ceasefire, the rights of women and minorities and the disarming of tens of