Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attends a meeting in Kabul. File photo
The Afghan government has finalised a 21-member team — including five women — who will negotiate with the Taliban in upcoming talks aimed at ending Afghanistan's 18-year-old conflict, officials said on Friday.
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The move is a crucial step in bringing the warring parties to the table and getting a floundering, US-led peace process back on track.
Under a deal signed by the US and the Taliban last month, the insurgents agreed to commit to starting talks with the Afghan government and discuss a possible ceasefire.
Up until now, the Taliban has refused to meet with the administration of President Ashraf Ghani, calling him an American stooge.
In return for starting talks and other commitments, the US and foreign partner forces will withdraw from Afghanistan over the next 14 months.
The negotiating team was supposed to be unveiled weeks ago, with the "intra-Afghan" talks with the Taliban meant to get underway on March 10 in Oslo.
But Kabul has been gripped by a fresh political crisis, with Ghani's legitimacy being challenged by his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has also proclaimed himself president.
The United States, which has slashed aid to the Afghan government over its failure to end infighting, hailed the progress in naming an "inclusive" negotiating team.
The delegation "reflects the true tapestry of the nation and the instrumental role of women," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief US negotiator.
"This consensus is a meaningful step that moves the parties significantly closer to intra-Afghan negotiations," he wrote on Twitter.
Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban will meet for peace talks in Doha on Saturday in a bid to end nearly two decades of war, though a quick breakthrough seems unlikely.
A fresh round of talks between the US and the Taliban is to begin in Qatar, just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is hoping for an Afghan peace agreement before Sept.1.
President Donald Trump halted talks with the group, aimed at striking a deal for US and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees, after it carried out a bomb attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a US soldier.
The Taliban met US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Pakistan capital for the first time since President Donald Trump declared a seemingly imminent peace deal to end Afghanistan's 18-year war 'dead' a month ago, a Taliban official said early on Saturday.
A video clip that was widely circulated showed the former player of Al-Fayhaa Club, Al-Hilal and Al-Taawon, Malik Abdul Monaim, rushing to a car lined up in one of the neighborhoods of the city of Zulfi, to rescue a child inside a car as he was playing with fire.
The stolen items valued at Dhs21,000, according to the beauty centre manager. The convict intended to use these items for herself and her family’s members, the Court heard.
"The major cause of deaths could be drowning because the well was 60 feet deep and there was much water in it," Ilayaraja T, a top local government official, told Reuters.
“I have had more problems with the impact of the nerve damage than the bullet wounds,” Khan says. “I still can't walk properly, I still don’t have proper sensation in my right foot. That’s a lasting effect, which the doctor says eventually with time will heal, will go away.”