AL KHOR/ISLAMABAD: Taliban representatives met with Afghan political figures for a second day on Sunday, but it was unclear if the dialogue hosted by Qatar moved any closer to long-awaited formal negotiations to end Afghanistan’s devastating war.

Participants in the meeting in Al-Khor, a seaside town north of Doha, emerged from the venue smiling and laughing on Sunday, but they refused to talk to reporters.

An Afghan who was part of the talks said that the Taliban and several other Afghan political movements were participating and all sides had agreed not to make any statements until a common statement had been agreed upon.

The Qatar meeting was the first sign of life in weeks for the hoped-for peace process to end the more than 13-year-old war between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

Several previous initiatives have failed over the years to end the war that has killed tens of thousands of Afghans since the U.S. and its allies drove the Taliban regime from power in 2001.

The informal talks came even as fighting in Afghanistan escalated after the withdrawal of most U.S. and allied troops.

The Taliban recently launched a fierce new offensive in northern Afghanistan that brought its fighters to the outskirts of Kunduz city, a provincial capital.

Afghan police and army soldiers have launched a counter-offensive in Kunduz, but the Taliban advance has proved a severe test of the NATO-trained Afghan security forces… see more

source: dawn