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Afghanistan, Taliban resume peace talks

An Afghan government delegation has left Kabul for a second round of peace talks with Taliban leaders in the Gulf state of Qatar, officials say.

Before departing for Doha, the delegation had extensive meetings with political leaders in Kabul where they were provided “clear guidelines”.

The team has a “mandate to discuss the peace agenda”, the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah said late on Monday.

“We are looking for a successful second round.”

Peace talks between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban started in mid-September.

It took the best part of three months for the two sides to agree on key procedural issues for the negotiations.

The peace talks aim to bring to an end nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, violence has continued unabated in Afghanistan since the start of the talks, with almost daily bombings and targeted killings of activists, journalists, and civilian government employees.

A ceasefire would be the main demand of the government delegation in this second round, according to officials.

In addition, the two sides aimed to discuss a new political road map and power-sharing.

Before entering into talks with the Afghan government, the Taliban and US representatives signed a peace deal in February.

The deal paves the way for the withdrawal of all international forces from Afghanistan within 14 months.

In return, the Taliban agreed to hold talks with Kabul and renounce violence.

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