Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Taliban appoints cofounder as top negotiator in Doha

AFP, KABUL

The Taliban has appointed a cofounder of the movement as the new head of its political office in Doha, where talks have been held since Monday with US officials seeking to end 17 years of conflict in Afghanistan.

“The esteemed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been appointed ... head of the political bureau,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement released late on Thursday.

“This step has been taken to strengthen and properly manage the ongoing negotiations process with the United States,” he added.

The announcement came as the insurgents said that they had held four straight days of talks with US officials in Doha.

It was not immediately clear if the negotiations were ongoing yesterday.

The duration of the talks, described as “unprecedented” by analysts, has raised hopes of an imminent agreement that could pave the way to peace talks.

However, Washington, which on Tuesday confirmed that talks were being held in Qatar between US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and representatives of the Taliban, has made no comment since.

Afghan officials, who previously complained about being cut out of the talks, also warned that any agreement would need their endorsement.

Baradar, formerly a top lieutenant of the extremist group, helped Mullah Omar, who died in 2013, found the Taliban movement.

Arrested in Pakistan in 2010 in an operation then considered to have dealt a fatal blow to the movement, he was released in October last year after a first meeting in Doha — never confirmed by the United States — between the Taliban and Khalilzad.

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