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Afghan Govt Forming Peace Negotiations Team

18 Feb 2020 Tolo News

The Afghan government has begun work on forming the peace-negotiating team with the Taliban, said Waheed Omar, director general of the president's office of public and strategic affairs.

“The government will determine authorities of the negotiating team. The team will have about 15 members,” said Omar.

The peace negotiating team will handle the technical aspects of the talks and the final decision will be taken in Kabul, said Omar, amid reports that the peace deal between the US and Taliban will be “finalized” next week.

“The Taliban are fighting with the Afghan govt. If they don't agree to talk with the Afghan govt, there are no peace negotiations,” said Omar.

Meanwhile, a number of politicians have said that the Afghan government should make sure an inclusive peace-negotiating team is formed to avoid any possible obstacles in the process.

The statements were made at an event organized by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) entitled "Assessing Recent Developments in the Afghan Peace Process."

However, the Afghan government so far has not disclosed the details of the team, but President Ashraf Ghani, in a meeting with governors on Monday, said that "only the Afghan government will determine the authority" of the team.

“We have lost many opportunities on many occasions. The current peace process is initiated by the Americans. My concern now is how much can we indigenize the process and take the lead?” asked former diplomat Jawed Ludin.

In addition, the Afghan government has expressed optimism about the recent progress in the talks between the United States and the Taliban.

Sediq Sediqqi, Palace spokesman, at a Tuesday press conference on President Ghani's recent trip to the Munich Security Conference, said that the US-Taliban peace deal is "conditional" and will be "finalized next week."

“Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, and Mark Esper, US Secretary of Defense, in a meeting with President Ghani told him that none of the peace agreement article is 'without conditions,'” Sediqqi said.

The peace deal between the US and Taliban will be “finalized” next week, Sediqqi said, adding that “peace is a priority for the government and the president, and our peace will be national--not on one side.”

“The risks of the Afghan peace process is the political future of the country. It's a landlocked country. The US can't remove Afghanistan from its neighborhood. To be stable, Afghanistan has to be what its neighbors want it – it has to deal with its neighbors,” said Barnett R. Rubin, an American political analyst.

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