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Intra-Afghan talks expected to begin next week says Abdullah Abdullah

Abdullah Abdullah

Kabul, Aug 28 (UITV/IANS)- Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, said he was confident that the much awaited intra-Afghan talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban will begin next week.

At an event held in Kabul on Thursday, Abdullah said that the Afghan government's negotiating team is fully prepared to participate in the discussions, reports TOLO News.

"I can say with relative confidence that intra-Afghan talks will begin next week. The list of people from the Political Committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation has been finalized and will be announced," he added.

In a survey, the Institute for War and Peace Studies found that more than 86 per cent of the country's population are satisfied with the current peace process.

"We want to promote a dialogue that will bring peace and the peace-building process out of the Afghan cities and out of the elite community into the rural areas," said Tamim Asey, the head of The Institute of War and Peace Studies.

Pierre Mayaudon, the European Union's (EU) Ambassador to Afghanistan, also said he considers the survey important in mobilizing people's views on the peace process, while reaffirming the bloc's continued support for the negotiations.

Responding to the development, NATO Senior Civilian Representative Stefano Pontecorvo said in a teet: "I met the Taliban representation in Doha. I reiterated NATO's support to sustainable peace in Afghanistan which responds to the wishes of the Afghan people."

Members of the negotiating team also said that they were ready to talk to the Taliban negotiating team, TOLO News reported.

"What we are confident about is giving people a shared Afghanistan, and insuring that our republic, with all its shortcomings and beauties, will not only be preserved, but will last," stated member Nadir Nadiri.

Earlier this month, nearly 3,400 Afghan delegates at a three-day Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of Afghan elders, approved the release of 400 high-value prisoners of the Taliban which was posing as an obstacle for the intra-Afghan negotiations.

Two days later, the government freed 80 of the prisoners, but said the remaining 320 were conditional on the release of at least 20 Afghan commandos in Taliban custody, according to officials.

The Taliban however, insisted that it has met its commitment to release 1,000 Afghan government hostages under the peace deal with the US which was signed in Doha on February 29.

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