Taliban Forms New 20-Member Department For Intra-Afghan Talks

The Taliban has formed a new 20-member team for holding the intra-Afghan talks and negotiating with the U.S., the militant group’s chief negotiator Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Wednesday.

Stanikzai told RFE/RL that he will be heading the new department which will also be tasked with selecting the location and preparing the agenda for the planned peace talks with the Afghan government.

In an earlier interview with the Associated Press (AP), Stanikzai said Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada had hand-picked the members of the new negotiating team.

AP said the negotiating team will have “sweeping decision-making powers” and 13 of the members come from the Taliban’s leadership council.

Stanikzai said the newly formed team is separate from the Doha-based Taliban political office, and will be in direct contact with the Taliban leadership.

The team will also have the authority to set agendas, decide strategy and even sign agreements with the Afghan government, AP was told.

“This is a powerful team … All decision-making powers are with the negotiation team,” Stanikzai told the news agency.

He also said that the intra-Afghan negotiations will be held in different countries and the Taliban’s team will be “ready for negotiations in the near future.”


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