Thirteen members of Afghanistan’s parliament, an Afghan governor “and a variety of political parties and armed groups” have held the second in a series of meetings in the Maldives, according to news network Al Jazeera.
Press Secretary at the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, on Thursday confirmed that the peace talks were taking place and all involved in the talks had valid passports and visas.
The Maldives is one of the few countries to provide Afghan nationals a visa on arrival.
“None of the representatives involved are listed in UN or other international travel blacklists,” Zuhair said, noting that the MNDF was aware of the meeting. The Al Jazeera report observed that US and NATO were not represented at the talks and that while it was interested the discussions, Afghan government had not officially endorsed them.
Al Jazeera’s report contained footage of the talks and of man the network said had arrived at the last minute “claiming to be a member of the Taliban.”
The representatives told Al Jazeera that their presence at the meeting, which the Maldivian media speculated was being held at Paradise Island Resort, was not official.
The event was organised by Almayoun Jarir, the son in law of former Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who is one of the three key leaders of the armed opposition in Afghanistan.
Topics of discussion included the need for fresh elections, and the future of foreign troops in the country. The report noted that one of the Afghan MPs who attended was female.
Besides the ease of visa issuance, the Maldives was chosen as the venue for the three day talks “because it is considered neutral ground for all countries [involved]” Al Jazeera said. “It is also an example of what peace can bring to an islamic country.”