Afghan peace talks to begin Saturday


Kabul (AFP)

Long-delayed peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators will begin Saturday in Qatar, officials and the insurgent group announced Thursday.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan would like to declare its readiness to take part in the inauguration ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations that shall be held in Qatar on September 12," the Taliban said in a statement.

The presidential palace said government negotiators would head to Doha on Friday to participate in the talks.

In a separate statement, the foreign ministry of Qatar also confirmed peace talks will begin Saturday.

"These direct negotiations between the various spectrums of the Afghan people are a serious and important step towards establishing sustainable peace in Afghanistan," the ministry said.

Talks were originally supposed to start in March but were repeatedly delayed as the Taliban and the Afghan government completed a prisoner exchange.