Turkey hosts Afghan talks with Taliban factions

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KABUL (Pajhwok): A quadrilateral intra-Afghan peace dialogue began on Saturday in the Turkish capital Istanbul, to find a negotiated end to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistaninfo-icon, a reliable source said.

A participant of the meeting confided to Pajhwok Afghan News the gathering initiated on Saturday would last three days (until Monday).

The source, wishing anonymity, also shared a few photos of the gathering with Pajhwok, saying the peace dialogue was arranged in cooperation with the Turkish government.

He said Talibaninfo-icon’s Qatar Office members, Mullah Mohammad Rassoul splinter faction members, the Afghan government representatives and Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) members were attending the huddle.

Rahmatullah Wardak is representing the Taliban, Mullahinfo-icon Rauf the Rassoul group, Abdul Halim, Haji Dawajan Ahmadzai and Homayoon Jarir the HIA and Dr. Basir, envoy of High Peace Council (HPC) head Karim Khalili is speaking on behalf of the government in the session.

The source said similar meetings had taken place in Turkey between the sides last year, but media was kept in the dark about them.

The meeting comes as reports suggest the Turkish government has proposed the Taliban to open a political office in the country.

A spokesman for the HIA, Mohammad Nadar Afghan, confirmed the gathering to Pajhwok. However, he said, Homayoon Jarir and Dawajan Ahmadzai had not participated in the gathering on behalf of the HIA.

He said Jarir was a presidential advisor and both might be privately invited to the gathering.

Also an official of the HPC confirmed to Pajhwok the gathering in Turkey; however, he didn’t go into details.

A source in close to Taliban admitted the peace negotiations but said no one from their supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah group was participating in the gathering.

He said a Taliban member named Rahmatullah Wardak was attending the gathering. Wardak, a former Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) employee had served as an intelligence operative in the Tailban regime. Wardak has been running a bee honey business in Dubai over the past few years.

According to the Taliban source, this was a third meeting of the kind taking placing between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Turkey. “But the recent (this meeting) is organized as a result of HIA leader Gulbuddin Hekmtyar’s visit to the country.”

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