The Taliban on Monday agreed to reduce the number of civilian casualties in its offensive against Afghanistan’s central government, according to a joint statement by representatives of the warring factions.
During talks in Doha, the militant group agreed to stop attacks on “religious centers, schools, hospitals, educational centers, bazaars, water dams and work places,” according to a statement seen by DW.
The encounter ended with a joint “appeal and promise to reduce violence in Afghanistan,” said Markus Potzel, Germany’s Afghanistan envoy, who co-hosted the talks with Qatar.
The statement also gives assurances on “women’s rights in political, social, economic, educational and cultural affairs in the contexts of Islamic values,” according to DW‘s Pashto service.
Though the group refuses to recognise Afghanistan’s central government in Kabul, calling it a “US puppet,” Taliban representatives had agreed to meet with officials in Doha in a “personal capacity.”
“The differences are almost so narrow,” said Mutlaq al-Qahtani, Qatar’s counter-terrorism special envoy. “We are quite frankly surprised how serious both sides are,” he added, “and they are so committed to putting an end to this conflict.”
The Taliban has also been negotiating with the US to bring an end to a conflict that started in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and US officials have said the Taliban must communicate with the government if they wish to seal a peace deal.
A previously planned meeting between Afghan representatives and the Taliban collapsed in April following a disagreement over the size of the proposed 250-member government delegation and its official status.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped for a peace agreement before September 1.
“Afghans meeting with the Taliban was a big success,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US’s lead negotiator.
This article was originally published by Deutsche Welle.