The first peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban have begun in Qatar on Saturday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Doha for the opening ceremony. He termed the meeting “historic”.
The peace negotiations were due to begin after a US-Taliban deal in February.
Masoom Stanekzai, a former intelligence chief, is leading the Afghan government’s 21-member negotiating team.
On the other hand, the Taliban are led by Mawlavi Abdul Hakim, the armed group’s chief justice and a close aide of the group’s chief Haibatullah Akhunzada.
Apart from that, Abdullah Abdullah, chairperson of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar is also attending the event.
Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan delegation, said that they seeking “a just and dignified peace”.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said the negotiation raises hopes for the war ending in the country, many challenges remain.
“This is a new phase in diplomacy for peace in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad told reporters in a telephone briefing on Friday.
“These negotiations are an important achievement, but there are … significant challenges on the way to reaching an agreement.”
The intra-Afghan negotiations were set to begin in March. But they have repeatedly been delayed over prisoner exchange deal.
The peace talks are all set to begin after a delay of almost six months. Analysts said the challenging part is to get both sides to reach an agreement.
“The various delays since the first designated start of the talks in early March show how much mistrust the two parties need to overcome,” Thomas Ruttig, co-founder of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, told the international news agency.
“It shows how difficult the talks will be in general, given the many issues they would have to solve, with the most difficult one being Afghanistan’s future political system.”