Afghan government announces team for talks with Taliban
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s government announced a 21-member team to negotiate with the Taliban, in a tentative sign of progress for the United States-brokered peace deal.
The list announced late on Thursday by the country’s State Ministry of Peace was headed by Masoom Stanekzai, a former National Directorate of Security chief and supporter of President Ashraf Ghani, and included politicians, former officials and representatives of civil society. Five members were women.
It was not immediately clear whether Ghani’s political rival Abdullah Abdullah would endorse the team selected, which diplomats have said would be vital given his camp’s strong influence in much of the country’s north and west.
Following the selection of the government’s negotiators, the next step should be to convene talks with the Taliban as part of a process aimed at ending America’s longest war and bringing peace to Afghanistan.
Abdullah’s spokesman said he could neither confirm or deny whether Abdullah supported the team.
Two sources - one a diplomat in Kabul briefed on the matter and another a member of Abdullah’s team - speaking on condition of anonymity, said negotiations had been taking place and he was likely to support the delegation.
The United States signed a troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban in February, but progress on moving to negotiations between the militant group and the Afghan government has been delayed, in part by the political feud between Ghani and Abdullah, who both claimed to be Afghanistan’s rightful leader following September’s disputed election.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to mediate between the two men to create an “inclusive” government during a day-long visit to Kabul on Monday, and announced a $1 billion cut in US aid to Afghanistan, which he said could be reversed.
PEACE TALKS DURING PANDEMIC
The global coronavirus pandemic was adding challenges to the peace process and US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has said created a need for urgency.
The Taliban had demanded the unconditional release of 5,000 prisoners before starting talks with the government. Ghani countered with an offer to free 1,500 prisoners, and has since said he would release 100 at the end of March due to humanitarian concerns stemming from the coronavirus.
The arrangement was struck in a talks between Taliban officials in Doha and government officials in Kabul, held over Skype because of travel restrictions.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said 15 Taliban officials would soon travel to Kabul to verify a list of prisoners.
A health ministry spokesman said on Twitter on Friday the government had agreed to a plan to restrict movement in the city to curb the risk coronavirus spreading. An official source said that included the closure of most stores and offices, other than essential services such as healthcare and food shops.
The Taliban, which controls or contests about half the country, said it had set up around 100 health teams to spread awareness on measures such as hand washing, but were struggling in some rural areas to convince people of the seriousness of the virus, Mujahid said.
Afghanistan so far has more than 90 confirmed cases and there are fears the virus is spreading from thousands crossing the border each day from hard-hit neighbor Iran.
Health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar welcomed the setting up of health teams and said the health ministry was ready to help.
“We say that we are ready to assist the Taliban if they contact us,” he said.
About 92 News HD Live Main TV Channel of Pakistan:
92 News (also known as 92 News HD Plus (Channel 92) is a conservative Urdu language TV channel based in Lahore, Pakistan.
Mian Muhammad Hanif is the chairman of the channel.
This TV channel is a subsidiary of Madinah Group under Galaxy Media Group.
The channel's name, 92, is to celebrate the 1992 Cricket World Cup won by Pakistan. The number 92 is also the telephone country calling code of Pakistan, which is another major reason behind the channel's name.
92 News HD is Pakistan’s first HD Plus News Channel. Aims to bring credible & responsible News & important stories from Pakistan & around the World
We bring you Latest Pakistani and International News at 92 News Hd Plus to Read and Watch
We believe in genuine and true journalism, we do not prevail sensation just for ratings.
We do not hide news but never tend to add any unethical content or angling that goes against the norms of our religion Islam and Pakistan's culture.
تازہ ترین خبریں حاصل کرنے کے لیے فوری اطلاع کی اجازت دیں
آپ کسی بھی وقت دائیں طرف نیچے بیل آئیکن پر صرف ایک کلک کے ذریعے آسانی سے سبسکرائب کر سکتے ہیں۔