Afghanistan government and Taliban representatives said they have reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first ever written agreement in 19 years of war, Reuters reports.
The agreement on Wednesday, 2 December, lays out the way forward for further discussion but is considered a breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues.
US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that the two sides had agreed on a three-page agreement codified rules and procedures for their negotiations on a political road map and a comprehensive ceasefire.
The agreement comes after months of discussions in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in negotiations encouraged by the United States.
The Taliban had refused to agree to a ceasefire during the preliminary stages of talks, despite calls from western capitals and global bodies, saying that would be taken up only when the way forward for talks was agreed upon.
United Nations envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons, welcomed the positive development on Twitter, adding that the breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghanistans.
Last month, an agreement reached between Taliban and government negotiators was held up at the last minute after Taliban refused the document’s preamble because it mentioned the Afghanistan government by name.
The Taliban refused to refer to the Afghanistan team as representatives of the Afghanistan government as they contest the legitimacy of the administration led by President Ashraf Ghani.
A European Union diplomat familiar with the process said that both sides had kept some contentious issues on the side to deal with separately.
“Both sides also know that Western powers are losing patience and aid has been conditional so both sides know they have to move forward to show some progress, said the diplomat.
In a statement on Wednesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry welcomed the agreement and said it was another significant step forward.
“The agreement reflects a common resolve of the parties to secure a negotiated settlement, it is an important development contributing towards a successful outcome of intra-Afghan negotiations which we all hope for, it read.