The first officially acknowledged peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the government in Kabul have concluded with an agreement to meet again after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, according to Pakistani officials.
Meanwhile, officials from the United States were observers in the talks held on Tuesday at Murree.
The participants agreed to continue talks to create an environment conducive for peace and reconciliation process.
Meanwhile, its fighters continue with their summer offensive in Kabul, where twin suicide attacks targeted a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation convoy and an Afghan intelligence office.
The Afghan Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it hoped the talks “would be a starting point for the process so it could prevent the shedding of more innocent Afghans’ blood and further destruction of the country”.
Afghan forces are now bearing the brunt of the insurgency after the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ended their combat role in the country at the start of the year, with Washington cutting its troop presence.
On Tuesday, a suicide auto bomber slammed into a vehicle carrying foreign forces in eastern Kabul, wounding at least two people.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in Oslo, lauded the peace talks and said the talks were a “major breakthrough”.
The talks come as the Taliban make military gains in certain districts.
Some disgruntled Taliban commanders question whether Omar is alive, and several have switched loyalty to Islamic State, the Middle East-based group that has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Ghani’s office said through its official Twitter account Tuesday that “a delegation from the High Peace Council of Afghanistan has traveled to Pakistan for negotiations with the Taliban”.
The Taliban have not yet commented on the talks and the group’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said he is unaware of any talks.
Two days of high-level talks about the possibility of holding peace talks in the future began today in Islamabad, with the Afghan government and Taliban sending delegations to the negotiation.
Elements of the Afghan Taliban have chafed at their dependence on Pakistan and sought to keep it at a distance from its global outreach efforts.
“Pakistan expresses its profound gratitude to the Government of Afghanistan and Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan for their willingness to work towards bringing lasting peace in Afghanistan”.