The Taliban will refuse to negotiate with the team announced by the Afghan government, the militant group’s spokesman said on Saturday, in a potential setback to the next steps of the U.S.-brokered peace process.
Spokesman Zabuhullah Mujahid said the group would not negotiate with the team as it was not selected in a way that included “all Afghan factions”
The Afghan government announced a team late on Thursday, which was later praised as “inclusive” by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
The list announced by the country's State Ministry of Peace would be led by Masoom Stanekzai, a former National Directorate of Security chief, and included politicians, former officials and representatives of civil society. Five members of the team are women.
The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad congratulated Afghan political and civil society leaders on Friday on forming the negotiating team, calling it "a meaningful step" that brings the parties closer to intra-Afghan negotiations.
The United States signed a troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban in February, but progress on moving to negotiations between the militant group and the Afghan government has been delayed, in part by the political feud between President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah with both men claiming to be Afghanistan's rightful leader following September's election.
Saturday 28 March 2020 23:05