Representatives of Afghan Taliban and the US government have resumed talks in Qatar in an attempt to find a political solution to the US-led war in Afghanistan.
The development comes as previous talks between the two sides have failed to make any headway, especially in a plan for a prisoner exchange.
A five-member Taliban delegation led by Tayyab Agha, the brother-in-law and spokesman for Afghan Taliban supreme commander Mullah Mohammad Omar, travelled to Qatar three weeks ago and held two rounds of talks with US officials, Taliban leaders said, quoted in news reports on Saturday.
Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar, a former Taliban envoy to Saudi Arabia, is reportedly another member of the delegation.
The Taliban leadership, however, has decided to keep the identity of the remaining three members of the delegation secret as they were not expecting any immediate breakthrough from the talks.
The two sides are sticking to “hard conditions” during the initial round of the talks, senior unnamed Taliban leaders were quoted as saying by The News daily.
The Taliban opened a representative office in Qatar last January and named it their “diplomatic office” for talks with the US.
According to Taliban sources, the previous talks with the Americans had annoyed some Taliban groups and field commanders.
However, this time Taliban leaders asserted that a meeting was called before the delegation departed for Qatar, where representatives of all militant groups were present and approved the holding of talks with the Americans while vowing to continue their fight against all the foreign forces as well as the Afghan government.
They also stated that their previous talks with the US were only about the exchange of prisoners, but US officials and Afghan government demanded a ceasefire before any prisoner swap.