Taliban name negotiating team ahead of new talks with US

 indianexpress.com  2/12/2019 12:15:00 PM 
New negotiator for Taliban suggests talks at critical stage
FILE — American soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division walk the mountains of Paktia Province in Afghanistan, April 15, 2013. American and Taliban negotiators are making headway on a deal in which the United States would withdraw troops from Afghanistan in return for a pledge by the Taliban not to allow the country to host terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, senior Taliban officials and Western diplomats said Jan. 24, 2019. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)

The Taliban have announced a 14-member negotiating team ahead of talks this month with US 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 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.

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

The Taliban refuse to meet with the US-backed government in Kabul.

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