Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni said Saturday that the representatives will discuss a “roadmap for peace talks”.
Pakistan will be represented by foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, Afghanistan by deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and China and the USA by their respective special envoys for Afghanistan and Pakistan region. The Taliban have stepped up attacks since the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally ended their combat mission a year ago, and the insurgents are battling local security forces on several fronts.
A previous fledging peace process last year was stopped after the Taliban announced that its founder, Mullah Omar, had been dead for two years, throwing the militant group into disarray and factional infighting. Officials from the four countries will meet in Islamabad, Pakistan foreign office sources said, in what they hope will be a first step towards resuming stalled negotiations. According to Faisal, the spokesman: “Pakistan has agreed to cut off financial support to the Taliban fighters, including in Quetta and Peshawar”. Pakistan’s relations with Kabul have been tense in recent months. “Pakistan has a vital role in these talks and it must play its role now, as the Afghan government doesn’t have the capacity to bring the Afghan Taliban to the table for talks”, Pakistan-based defense analyst Saad M. Khan told VOA Deewa radio.
The meeting will not include the Taliban. Mullah Rasool, the leader of the splinter faction, is still resisting the idea of peace talks, saying the fight must continue until the Taliban is returned to power. Kabul has been trying to limit expectations of a breakthrough at Monday’s talks, and has said the aim is to work out a road map for peace negotiations and a way of assessing if they remain on track. The two countries have long accused each other of backing the Taliban and other insurgents operating along their porous border. Mr Ghani was given a warm welcome at the meeting, which was also attended by U.S. and Chinese representatives.