Abdullah’s office finalizes list for negotiating team

KABUL (TOLO News): As the March 10 deadline for the intra-Afghan negotiations approaches, Afghan politicians have earnestly begun forming a negotiating team.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and politicians close to him have finalized their list of delegates for the intra-Afghan talks, according to Abdullah’s office.

The Chief Executive’s Office said in a statement on Monday said that Abdullah had met with former Mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf and former president Hamid Karzai.

The statement said that the US-Taliban deal, and ways to implement it, were discussed in the meeting.

“The Chief Executive’s Office and the Stability and Convergence team, in consultation with a number of elders and political leaders in Afghanistan, have finalized a list (for the negotiating team),” Abdullah’s deputy spokesman Omid Maisam said. “We hope that the Presidential Palace, as a part of the government of national unity, will participate (with the team).”

President Ghani at a press conference in Kabul on Sunday suggested the team should be limited to eight to 10 members, and said the delegates were chosen after consultation with politicians and other stakeholders.

But some political parties close to Abdullah’s team have criticized the Presidential Palace for not consulting with them on the formation of the delegation.

“There hasn’t been any special consultation,” said Abdullah Qarloq, a member of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan known as Junbish-e-Milli and led by First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum. “But it is expected that consultations are done (with us).”

The Presidential Palace meanwhile said that the negotiating team will not be fully comprised of governmental people.

“We are not insisting that the delegation be all governmental people; we insist that the delegation be limited and effective and committed to the values of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Waheed Omar, a presidential advisor.

Other politicians said the current opportunity for peace will be lost if the National Unity Government leaders delay in their decision on the negotiating team.

“If these issues are not put aside soon, the golden opportunity will be lost and the situation of the country will be uncertain,” said Mohammad Ismail Khan, a former Mujahedeen leader.

The Afghan government has eight days to form the negotiating team before the intra-Afghan negotiations, as mentioned in the Afghan-US declaration issued on Saturday.