Afghanis to seek elusive peace at new dialogue on July 7

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Germany and Qatar will co-host an intra Afghan dialogue on July 7-8 to support the peace process in Afghanistan. The dialogue will be held in the Qatari capital Doha in “the wake of unwavering ferocity across Afghanistan as war even further intensified between Afghan forces and the Taliban fighters,” Afghani media reported. Both Germany and Qatar confirmed the dialogue would be held within days and said in a press release that “Afghanistan is at an important crossroad to seize the opportunity to achieve peace, so direct agreement between the Afghan parties is one of the most important elements of any process leading to this objective.”

“Only Afghans are capable of determining the future of their country. The intra-Afghan dialogue can help clarify the options and opportunities that this direct consensus entails,” the statement said. Berlin and Doha have already sent out invitations to the Afghan parties that would participate in their personal capacity only and on an equal footing. The statement hoped that the conference would contribute to building confidence between the main stakeholders representing a wide spectrum of the people and society of Afghanistan “in order to support peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region in general.”

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation who is leading the U.S. government effort to facilitate dialogue and negotiations to bring peace to Afghanistan, said that the intra Afghan dialogue was crucial. “I want to thank Germany and Qatar for agreeing to host the upcoming July 7-8 intra-Afghan Dialogue Conference. This dialogue is an essential element of the four-part peace framework & an important step in advancing the Afghan Peace Process,” he posted on his Twitter account. “Mutual acceptance, seeking consensus, and agreeing to resolve political differences without force is what is needed to learn from the tragedy of the last 40 years. I wish participants success,” he said on the microblog. On Monday, Taliban carried out an attack in Kabul that left dozens dead and wounded.

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According to an AP report, the car bomb blast ripped through downtown Kabul during the early morning commute and set off a nearly 10-hour attack that included a series of smaller explosions and a gun battle between insurgents and Afghan security forces. The United Nations condemned the attack. “The use of explosives in civilian-populated areas continues to cause extreme harm to Afghanistan’s civilian population, and I call for an immediate end to the horrible practice,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Loss of life, maiming, damage to schools, businesses and personal property, along with widespread fear – these are the real consequences of such attacks in urban areas.”

The White House also condemned the act of terrorism, stating that “this brazen attack demonstrates the Taliban’s callous disregard for their fellow Afghans, who have repeatedly voiced the urgency of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.” The terrorist attack occurred as U.S. officials and Taliban representatives were holding their seventh round of peace talks that began on Saturday. The U.S. is keen on an end to the 18-year-old war in the country and during an unannounced visit to the Afghani capital last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. was close to reaching a preliminary agreement with the Taliban. The U.S. has been pressing during its talks to ensure that once it pulls its troops out of the country, Afghan territories would not be used as a base by terrorists as it had been by Al Qaida.

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