Next round of peace talks between Afghan rivals likely in April
Tue 16 Mar 99 - 14:32 GMT
ISLAMABAD, March 16 (AFP) - The next round of peace talks between Afghanistan's warring factions may be held in April in Kabul at the United Nations compound, the UN Special Mission for Afghanistan (UNSMA) chief said here Tuesday.
Andrew Tesoriere told a news conference following an agreement between Afghanistan's Taliban Islamic militia and its opponents that the UN premises in Kabul would be a "neutral" ground for the meeting.
He underlined the need to keep up the "momentum" achieved in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabad where the representatives of the warring sides Sunday agreed to exchange prisoners and to hammer out a power-sharing arrangement.
The outcome marked only an "important first step towards peace," said Tesoriere, clarifying interpretrations by the media and analysts.
Neither of the opposite views that a breakthrough was made or nothing was achieved was accurate, he noted.
Tesoriere, who attended the talks as a facilitator, said that the negotiators basically agreed to share the instutitions of state, that is exeucitive, legislature and judiciary.
Besides other things, it was considered that ethnic communities should be given representation in these institutions, he said.
According to him the Taliban took part in the Ashgabad talks as representatives of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the opposition as representatives of the Islamic state of Afghanistan.
He discounted fears that the agreement might collpase soon with the two sides engaging in a spring offensive instead of returning to the negotiating table for a second round.
The Ashgabad accord has been greeted with hope and doubts, with analysts warning that the two sides still faced an uphill task to agree on a power-sharing formula.
The opposition northern alliance has said the leadership question must be discussed for the peace talks to have any meaning while the Taliban believes that this is not an issue.
The Taliban, which holds about 80 percent of Afghanistan, has formed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, headed by Amir (ruler) Mullah Mohmmad Omar.
"This is what the people want and there is no issue in principle concerning the leadership," Taliban chief negotiator, Wakil Ahmad, told the official radio Shariat in Kabul on his return from Turkmenistan.
Opposition spokesman Abdullah said both sides still had a "long way" to go with issues of cessation of fighting and leadership yet to be resolved.
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