US, EU, NATO welcome Afghan govt’s team for talks with Taliban

KABUL: The US, NATO, EU and Germany have welcomed the introduction of a negotiating team by the government for talks with Taliban.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted: “I want to congratulate Afghan government, political & civil society leaders for coming together. They’ve forged an inclusive negotiating team for talks with the Taliban. The delegation reflects the true tapestry of the nation and the instrumental role of women.”

Meanwhile, The US embassy in Kabul said: “We welcome an important step in the Afghan Peace Process. These people carry the expectations of the nation on their shoulders.

“We’re ready to facilitate their preparation in face-to-face negotiations with the Taliban, to turn the promise of peace into a reality in Afghanistan,” the embassy added.

The NATO senior civilian representative (SCR) called the formation of the negotiating team as a crucial step on the road to peace. He said: “NATO welcomes efforts of Afghans to come together at this pivotal moment and we look forward to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations ASAP to reach a comprehensive peaceful settlement with the Taliban.”

EU special envoy Ronal Kobia also welcomed the delegation’s formation as a key step towards the start of intra-Afghan negotiations as per commitments in the Doha agreement.

“It also positively signals a much-needed agreement & cooperation between the various political forces in Kabul,” said the EU diplomat.

Germany’s special envoy Potzel Markus said his country hailed the formation of the inclusive negotiating team. “Some of them already gained experience at Doha dialogue in July last year. Five women among these 21 members – not bad. Now, it’s time to start intra-AFG negotiations ASAP!”

The Afghan government has finalized 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.

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.

Former National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief, Massoum Stanekzay would lead the negotiating team that includes 14 men, including the offspring of the two key warlords, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, former first-vice president and Ata Mohammad Noor, former Balkh Governor, and five women, according to the statement.

Massoum Stanekzay, the former chief of National Directorate of Security (NDS), Nader Naderi, Chairman of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), Matin Bek, the head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), Habiba Sarabi, the deputy head of the High Peace Council (HPC), Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, the former Minister of Economy, Khalid Noor, son of former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, Kalimullah Naqibi, the deputy head of Jamiat-e-Islami party, Rassoul Talib, adviser to the president and Enayatullah Baligh, the presidential religious advisor and a member of the Ulama Council are the negotiating team members representing the government in peace talks with the Taliban.

Other members of the team are Shahla Fareed, a university lecturer, Mohammad Natiqi, the former chairman of the Committee of Political Parties and Political Movements, Abdul Hafiz Mansour, a former member of the parliament, Zaynab Muahhed, a member of Jamiat-e-Islami, Batur Dostum, the son of former first vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum and Dr. Amin Ahmadi, a university lecturer.

Another member, Amin Karim will also represent the Hizb-e-Islami party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the delegation.

Zarar Ahmad Moqbel, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zakia Wardak, the director of the Society of Afghan Women in Engineering and Construction and Ayoub Ansari, the former police commander of Herat, are also parts the team.

The presidential statement said the team was appointed after ‘much deliberation and consultation with all parties and influential segments of society,’ to advance peace talks with the Taliban.

“The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan wishes the delegation success and calls on them to consider, at all stages of negotiations, the best interest of the country, the shared values of the Afghan people, and the principle stand of the country for a united Afghanistan, and strive for lasting peace and stability in the country,” said the statement said.

Meantime, Abdul Salam Rahimi, the Special Representative of the President and the State Minister for Peace said that the ministry will manage all decision-making mechanism on behalf of the government and facilitate and support the progression of the peace process.

The Kabul Times

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