Members of the Taliban attend the Intra Afghan Dialogue talks in Doha. Karim Jaafar/AFP
Dozens of powerful Afghans resumed talks with the Taliban on Monday in Doha, where a possible ceasefire is on the table along with key issues such as women's rights.
Stakes are high for the talks which follow a week of US-Taliban negotiations with both sides eyeing a resolution to the bloody 18-year conflict.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that the Afghan gathering "has been a long time coming" and praised the country's "government, civil society, women, and Taliban" for coming together.
"History will remember those who were able to set their differences aside for the sake of the country.
Washington has said it wants to seal a political deal with the Taliban ahead of Afghan presidential polls due in September to allow foreign forces to begin to withdraw.
Around 70 delegates are attending the two-day gathering which has been organised by Germany and Qatar.
"History will remember those who were able to set their differences aside for the sake of the country" said Germany envoy Markus Potzel as he opened the gathering Sunday.
A German source confirmed the second day of talks got underway just before 0600 GMT.
Delegate Asila Wardak, a member of the High Peace Council established by former president Hamid Karzai to engage with Taliban elements, said "everybody is emphasising on a ceasefire" during Sunday's session.
The Taliban spoke about "women's role, economic development, (and) the role of minorities" in a future settlement, she added.
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said on Twitter that he looked "forward to a constructive dialogue".
The so-called intra-Afghan meetings follow six days of direct US-Taliban talks that have been put on hold for the two day Afghan conference and are set to resume Tuesday, according to both sides.
US lead negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said Saturday that the latest round of US-Taliban talks "have been the most productive of the rounds we've had with the Talibs".
The Taliban said they were "happy with progress".
The United States is not participating directly in the two-day Afghan summit, which is being attended by political heavyweights, government officials and at least six women.
The Taliban, who have steadfastly refused to negotiate with the government of President Ashraf Ghani, have stressed that those attending are only doing so in a "personal capacity".
The Taliban have steadfastly refused to discuss peace with Ghani, whom they consider a US stooge heading an illegitimate regime.
Their meeting came during a marathon multi-country tour by Khalilzad, who is to visit Qatar — the usual venue for talks with the Taliban.
Ghani said the message of the five-day gathering was clear: “Afghans want peace” and offered a ceasefire, though he stressed it would not be unilateral. In the statement on Friday, the Taliban rejected a ceasefire, saying attacks will continue during Ramadan but said “fighters are very careful of civilians during any operation.”
"Considering the problems of overseas Pakistanis it has been decided that the first flight would land at Islamabad International Airport on April 4. All passengers will be sent in quarantine and tested for COVID-19. Those tested negative will be sent home through special arrangement of transport," Asad Umar said.
The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the Hajj which is due to take place at the end of July, after authorities this week urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.
The Philippines' department of foreign affairs expressed its "deep sadness" at the passing of Bernardita Catalla, which it said was the result of "complications arising from Covid 19".
The Ministry of Education said the decision was taken as part of preventative and precautionary measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, with the aim of protecting the health of students and the general public.