The so-called intra-Afghan dialogue follows six days of direct US-Taliban talks that have been put on hold for the two day Afghan conference and are set to resume Tuesday, according to both sides. The Taliban have repeatedly refused to recognize the Kabul government, dismissing it as an American puppet.
Government officials in the southern provinces of Logar and Helmand said the Afghan forces had conducted several air strikes on Taliban hideouts in the last 36 hours, killing over 30 insurgents.
A USA official says the latest round of talks with the Taliban -- now in their second week -- has been "very productive", while strenuously denying Washington sought a fixed deadline for the withdrawal of its estimated 14,000 troops from Afghanistan. He added there must be a series of dialogues and discussions before entering negotiations and the Intra-Afghan dialogue comes within the framework of reaching an agreement on the terms of peace among the Afghan factions.
The July 7-8 intra-Afghan dialogue, organized by Qatar and Germany, is seen as an icebreaker that could lead to direct negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders.
In a visit to the Afghan capital late last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said September 1 was the target date for a peace deal to end America's longest running military engagement.
The Taliban and rival Afghan parties "promise to reduce violence" following the second and final day of talks in Doha on Monday, the German envoy said.
Stakes are high for the talks which follow a week of direct engagement between the USA and the Taliban with both sides eyeing a resolution to the bloody conflict. Despite the violence, both the Taliban and USA have been positive about their engagement.
"The past 40 years of war in Afghanistan has shown that attempts by groups to force their ideas on others only result in further conflict", Khalilzad said.
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Zalmay Khalilzad said substantive progress had been made on all four parts of a peace deal: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, participation in Intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the Election Support Group, an alliance of key donors such as the EU, Australia, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic plus), Germany, Japan, the U.K, the U.S.as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on Sunday urged the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan to continue making progress in its preparations for the elections scheduled for September 28, 2019.
Khalilzad said the policy of Pakistan, which Kabul and Washington have long accused of backing the Taliban, has changed "little-by-little in a positive direction".
But he and the rest of the Taliban delegation, which included Suhail Shaheen, the group's Doha office spokesman, took their seats in the expansive ballroom shortly before the talks began at 0630 GMT.
The United States is not participating directly in the two-day summit although Khalilzad did pass by the hall hosting the Afghan talks.
"We want it and it is necessary for society, because media monitors the veins of society like a physician and then recommend them a solution, but freedom of the press should respect the faith and it should be used for the structure and construction of society not for destruction of individuals and society", he told TOLOnews.