Talks designed to find a way to get Taliban militants and the Afghan government to the peace table have been set for Monday in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, according to Afghan officials.
The four-way talks between Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States are designed to find a way to revive the peace talks, but the main goal will be finding a way to get the Taliban to participate in the future.
“Taliban representatives will not be present in this round of talks,” said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the Afghanistan's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah said Saturday.
"We hope that Taliban will be united and represent the group in the next round of peace talks,” said Abdul Hakim Mujahid, the deputy chair of Afghanistan’s high peace council and a former Taliban representative to the United Nations.
The concern is that recent infighting between Taliban factions will prevent the group from sending any representative who can speak for the entire movement.
“I do not think the split between the Taliban will affect the peace talks since negotiations for uniting the group again has born some fruit over the past two weeks and we have not seen any armed combat between rival groups,” said Mujahid.
Meanwhile, Taliban militants gain more ground in Afghanistan each day, with Afghan security forces on the defensive.
"We are trying to change our security force strategy from defensive to offensive," Masoom Stanakzai, the acting defence minister for Afghanistan, told media on Saturday.
It is unclear when this strategy will be put to implementation and if it will have any success at all.
Stanakzai said, "The change in weather has not brought any differences on the level of intensity of the fight in some areas of the country."
Stanakzai is referring to previous years when Taliban militants decreased the level of attacks in country during the winter.
The newest effort at peace talks comes after representatives of the four countries met on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference in Pakistan and set a coordination committee for the revival of peace talks in December of last year.
The last round of peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban militants was scheduled in late July with the help of Pakistan. It collapsed after news of the death of Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar surfaced.
Faisal said Hikmat Khalil Karzai, the deputy minister of Afghanistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, will represent Afghanistan on Monday.
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