Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban met in Doha for talks on Saturday as violence rages in the country with foreign forces almost entirely withdrawn.
The two sides have been meeting on and off for months in the Qatari capital, but the talks have lost momentum as the insurgents have made battlefield gains.
Several high-ranking officials, including former Afghan former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, gathered in a luxury hotel on Saturday after morning prayers.
Former president Hamid Karzai had also been due to travel to Doha but remained in Kabul, according to an AFP source. They were joined by negotiators from the Taliban’s political office in Doha.
“The high level delegation is here to talk to both sides, guide them and support the (government) negotiating team in terms of speeding up the talks and have progress,” said Najia Anwari, the spokeswoman for the Afghan government negotiating team in Doha.
“We expect that it (will) speed the talks and… in a short time, both sides will reach a result and we will witness a durable and dignified peace in Afghanistan,” she told AFP.
The Taliban have capitalised on the last stages of the withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from Afghanistan to launch a series of lightning offensives across the country.