Maldives Hosts Afghan Peace Talks
Senior Taliban figures have arrived in the Maldives to take part in unofficial talks aimed at resolving the continuing crisis in Afghanistan.
Organisers say that the meeting, which is due to be held on Thursday evening, will include key stakeholders from the three decades of conflict in Afghanistan.
Forty-five delegates, including representives from the Taliban, the Afghan government and major political parties, are expected to attend the talks, which come as the Afghan security situation continues to deteriorate.
The meeting has been organised by Jarir Hekmatyar, the son-in-law of Gulbadin Hakmatyar, an Afghan warlord and leader of the Hezb-e-Islami party.
Gulbadin is considered Afghanistan's second most wanted man and has sent his son, Feroz, to represent him at the meeting.
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is unhappy that the talks are taking place, but has sent observers to hear what is discussed. His position has been echoed by the Taliban, which has drawn the line at full participation, but has sent representatives in an unofficial capacity.
Al Jazeera's Dan Nolan, reporting from the talks, says that Western officials have been deliberately excluded from the process.
"There are no international observers here. The people organising these talks say these are Afghan problems that need Afghan solutions," he said.
The meeting is the second such gathering held in the Maldives.
In January, Al Jazeera revealed that a secret meeting between government and Taliban officials had taken place on the Indian Ocean islands as part of an effort to engage the Taliban in the political process.
The Maldives may seem an unlikely location for a meeting of this type, but the popular tourist destination is used to host the talks because it is one of few countries that issues visas to Afghans on arrival.
Many of the participants would risk arrest if they attended such a meeting in Afghanistan.
Source: Al Jazeera