Pakistani Taliban insurgency
Pakistani Taliban successfully test-fires indigenous missile Reuters file photo

Qatar will host talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban aimed at ending more than a decade of bloody conflict that began following the 9/11 bombings in 2001.

The deputy chief of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, Attaullah Ludin, told Reuters on Friday that an Afghani delegation will meet Taliban leaders in the Gulf state on Sunday and Monday.

The meeting was confirmed by a Taliban official in Qatar, the news agency reported.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani was told by Pakistan in Febraury that senior Taliban figures were open to talks with Kabul, but this is the first time that there has been any indication that the two sides would actually meet.

'The open discussions are based on peace in Afghanistan. There will be representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Taliban and some other organisations.'
- Attaullah Ludin

Since Ghani took over over from former president Hamid Karzai at the end of 2014 he has attempted to forge links with Pakistan - long considered to tolerate if not actually support the Afghani branch of the group - and encourage them to mediate in talks with the Taliban.

In February, Afghanistan held talks with Taliban figures, after a delegation visited Beijing. Pakistan's willingness to act as a middle man was further provoked by the horrific murder of 132 school children in Peshwar by the Pakistani Taliban earlier this year.

"The open discussions are based on peace in Afghanistan. There will be representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Taliban and some other organisations," Ludin said.

He added that members of the High Peace Council would be meeting the Taliban in Qatar and also two representatives of Hizb-i-Islami, another militant group fighting Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government that also has a political wing.

The New York Times reported this week that even months after US President Barack Obama had formally declared that the US war against the Taliban was over, the American military was regularly carrying out air strikes and that special forces troops were still operating in the country.

It reported that American and Nato forces carried out over 50 air strikes in March, bringing the total number in 2014 to 128.

Obama and Ghani announced in March that the number of US troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to just under 10,000 with an exit strategy for a full withdrawal by 2017.

The Taliban has been making gains in Afghanistan almost 15 years since former US President George Bush ordered military action on the country after the 11 September attacks on New York in 2001.

Since the beginning of the war a total of 2,215 American, 453 British and over 20,000 Afghani soldiers have died, many of them killed in battle with the Taliban as well as by IEDS and suicide bombings.

Earlier in April a suicide bomber in the eastern city of Jalalabad killed 33 people in an attack on government workers collecting their salaries from a local bank. The Taliban condemned the attack as "evil" and Ghani blamed Islamic State militants.