ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The first round of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government ended on a positive note Wednesday with a promise to resume discussion in Pakistan after the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The groundbreaking meeting which began on Tuesday was held in Pakistan’s hill town resort of Murree, an hour’s drive from the capital Islamabad.

The meeting was one of the highest-level contacts between the two warring sides in recent years. It offered hope that a formal peace process aimed at ending the long-running conflict could begin soon.

Pakistan’s foreign office said that two the sides “were duly mandated by their respective leadership and expressed their collective desire to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region”.

The Afghan government side was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hikmat Khalil Karzai, while the Taliban are being led by Mullah Abbas Akhund, who served as health minister when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Also included in the Taliban side were former deputy foreign minister Mullah Jalil and senior leader Qari Din Muhammad.
Diplomats from the United States and China were said to have attended as observers.