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Peace Taliban talk in Qatar today

25 February, 2019

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Taliban political representatives and US officials will begin another round of peace talks in Qatar on Feb 25 (today), the Taliban political spokesman said on Sunday.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban political office in Qatar, said the talks with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will be followed by meetings of two joint working committees that will devise plans for the withdrawal of foreign troops and to prevent Afghanistan from being used for terrorism in future.

“The talks will be held on Feb 25 as agreed upon in the last round in January,” Shaheen told Daily Times from Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Sunday.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also confirmed that the talks will begin in Qatar on Monday.

Taliban chief Maulvi Haibatullah has appointed a 14-member high-level negotiation team for talks, including six members from the powerful decision-making leadership council ‘Rehbari Shura.’

Taliban former deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar presently heads the Taliban political commission and is in-charge of the Qatar’s political office. Three Taliban officials confirmed to Daily Times that Mullah Baradar will lead the Taliban delegation.

Pakistan released Baradar in October last year on the request of Khalilzad to facilitate the peace process.

The US envoy has also asked the Afghan government to name a ‘unified, inclusive and national negotiating team’ which includes the Afghan government and other Afghans to move forward.

Shaheen was satisfied with the outcome of the meetings held so far with the US negotiators in Qatar. “We talked about the complete withdrawal of foreign forces, which is an important thing for us. The second issue was related to the US concerns that Afghan soil should not be used for terrorism against them,” he said. “In the last round of talks in Doha on Jan 21-26, both sides had reached an agreement on forming working groups. So we are satisfied in the sense that we will be now working to implement it in written form. We will make progress in the next round,” he added.

Five Taliban leaders, who were released in exchange for US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in 2014, Mullah Fazil, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, Maulvi Noorullah Nuri, Mualvi Muhammad Nabi Umari and Maulvi Abdul Haq Waseeq are now members of the negotiation team.

The new members include: Amir Khan Mutaqi, Abdul Latif Mansour, (former Taliban ministers), Muti-ul-Haq, son of Mujahideen leader Younas Khalis, and Anas Haqqani, who is presently imprisoned at an Afghan jail.

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