ISLAMABAD, 24th February, 2016 (WAM)–The first round of direct peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives will be held in the first week of March in Islamabad, according to a joint statement issued by the Quartet Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, United States, China and Pakistan at its fourth meeting held in Kabul yesterday and published by Pakistan Foreign Ministry.

In the statement, the Quartet Coordination Group called on Taliban and other groups to participate through authorised representatives in the first round of direct peace talks with the Afghan government.

The group welcomed the decision by Afghanistan and Pakistan to form a joint bilateral working group to work with scholars from Afghanistan and Pakistan to support the peace process and the Afghan reconciliation.

It will continue their joint efforts as part of the joint commitments to move forward in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

The statement also said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced during the meeting the appointment of Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani as head of the Supreme Council for Peace, the government body in charge of negotiating with the Taliban to succeed Burhanuddin Rabbani.

WAM/Majok