Less than 24 hours after they were announced, direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban concluded Wednesday with both parties agreeing to meet again after the holy month of Ramadan, according to officials in the host nation, Pakistan.“The participants agreed to continue talks to create an environment conducive for [the] peace and reconciliation process,” read a statement from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. “The next meeting will be held at a mutually convenient date after Ramadan,” which ends next week.
The meeting in Murree, on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, was billed as the first in which Afghan officials and Taliban insurgent leaders sat across from one another and raised hope of a diplomatic resolution to more than a decade of conflict.
But the meeting Tuesday appeared to end almost as quickly as it was announced.
Representatives from the United States and China also attended the talks as observers, Afghan and Pakistani officials said. The Taliban are reportedly seeking an easing of terrorism-related sanctions imposed by the United States as part of an eventual settlement with the Afghan government.
Soon after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office disclosed the meeting Tuesday, some Taliban members denied that they supported talks with the government, which they have long described as a Western puppet.