Taliban name negotiating team ahead of new talks with US

February 12, 2019

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In this file photo participants attend the opening of the two-day talks of the Taliban and Afghan opposition representatives at the President Hotel in Moscow on February 5. — AFP
In this file photo participants attend the opening of the two-day talks of the Taliban and Afghan opposition representatives at the President Hotel in Moscow on February 5. — AFP

The Taliban have announced a 14-member negotiating team ahead of talks this month with United States envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been meeting with the insurgents to try to end America's longest war.

Mullah Abbas Stanikzai heads the Taliban team announced on Tuesday, which includes five former inmates of the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, who were released in 2014 in exchange for a captured American soldier.

The team also includes Anas Haqqani, the jailed younger brother of the leader of the Haqqani network, a powerful Taliban faction.

Read more:US special envoy resumes Afghan peace diplomacy

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Haqqani, who is being held in Kabul, "should be released to start work on the negotiating team".

During a visit to the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar on Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was offering the Taliban an office in Afghanistan because he wanted the peace talks to be held on the Afghan soil. The Afghan president has already made several attempts to engage the Taliban, but the insurgents continue to refuse to hold directs talks his government.