Negotiating team will be announced: Sediqqi

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: As the week-long reduction in violence pact has been in effect across Afghanistan, the Afghan government says it is ready to announce the negotiating team for the intra-Afghan negotiations within the next two weeks. The intra-Afghan talks will begin after the signing of the US-Taliban deal, which, according to the US Department of State, will happen on February 29.

President Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the authority of the negotiating team will be limited. “We expect Mr. (Hamid) Karzai, Mr. (Abdullah) Abdullah, Mr. (Mohammad) Mohaqiq, and all politicians to join the convoy of peace and end the war in Afghanistan,” Sediqqi told TOLOnews.

But some politicians have blamed a group within the government for impeding the peace process. “One side in the government is trying hard to impede peace,” Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said during a TOLOnews debate on Saturday evening.

“Political parties and all elites of this country are against the Presidential Palace and they will never be part of a team that is assigned by Ashraf Ghani,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan. A source within the government told TOLOnews that the negotiating team that will be introduced by the government will have up to 15 members.

“Efforts are underway to form an inclusive delegation for talks with the Taliban in collaboration with all sides involved in the process,” said Omid Maisam, a spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah’s Office. But a former Taliban member, Jalaluddin Shinwari, said the group will not talk with a delegation that is not inclusive.

“(The issue) will not have any impact on the US-Taliban talks but it will have a negative impact on intra-Afghan negotiations, which will begin after 17 days,” Shinwari said. Politicians in Kabul have been holding meetings in recent days, according to statements by their offices. A statement by former president Hamid Karzai’s office reads that Karzai held a meeting with former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf and discussed the peace process and ways to overcome the political crisis in the country.(Tolo News)