Political Parties Hopeful After Paris; Taliban Demand Constitutional Change

News - Afghanistan


Some political parties participating in the Paris meeting have expressed hope about its outcomes, while the Taliban representatives read a statement calling for changes to the Constitution.

Mohammad Hanif Atmar, former minister of interior and representative of the Rights and Justice Party at the talks, told TOLOnews in a phone interview that disagreements among participants were slight.

"The similarities of our views and other things we had in common have made us extremely hopeful for our country's future," Atmar said.

"All stressed on peace and a political solution."

Atmar added that a second meeting similar to this one will be held in Paris in one month.

A spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah's National Coalition expressed optimism about the future of the talks.

"We are confident that we will reach peace if the involved groups agreed over real peace negotiations," said Engineer Mohammad Asim, who was not in Paris.

Taliban representatives stressed on the complete withdrawal of foreign troops and on changes to the Constitution. Their contention with the current constitution suggests a stance at direct odds with the Afghan government, the civil society and the international community, all of which have stressed the Tailban's acceptance of the Constitution as a prerequisite for any peace deal.

"The civic, personal and political rights of all of the country's citizens must be taken into account in the Constitution. The Constitution should guarantee, in a fair way, the rights of all ethnic groups and should clarify the nature of the relationship between the government and the people," said a prepared statement read at the meeting by Taliban representative Maulawi Shahabuddin Delawar.

Mentioning the "personal and political rights" of the people could be a hint that the Taliban are asking for guarantees of free political participation in the event of a peace deal.

The Taliban text accused the government and the international community for actively prioritizing war over peace efforts.

"To bring peace, talks must be prioritized over fighting. Right now, Kabul and its international allies aim to put pressure on the Taliban to bring peace as they define it, which really increases the challenges [toward a peaceful settlement]."

High Peace Council Deputy Ataullah Loudin, who was not in Paris, continued to downplay the meeting's importance.

"The Council welcomes any peace effort because of our purpose, which is mediation between government and opposing groups. But the Taliban did not speak about peace in the meeting, just read their statement, so I think that does not have any positive or negative bearing over peace."

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