Taliban names co-founder as head of political office in Qatar

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Kabul, Jan 25 (IANS) The Taliban have named Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the group, as the head of their political office in Qatar with the aim to strengthen the ongoing negotiations with the US to put an end to the Afghan conflict.

“In accordance with the decree issued by the Leader of Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban refer to themselves), the esteemed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been appointed as the deputy of the Leader in Political Affairs and the chief of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement late Thursday.

Mullah Baradar, whose real name is Abdul Ghani Baradar, was released in Pakistan in October, Efe news reported.

Before his arrest in 2010, he was believed to be the military chief of the terror group, led by Mullah Omar who had died in 2013, although the news was made public only two years later.

“This step has been taken to strengthen and properly handle the ongoing negotiations process with the United States,” the spokesperson added in the statement.

He said that “with the appointment of the esteemed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the negotiation team of the Islamic Emirate will continue their talks with the US”.

A fourth round of talks between the Taliban and the US began in Qatar earlier this week.

Baradar’s release in October had coincided with the Taliban agreeing to begin peace talks with the US, although they had refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, calling it a puppet of the US.

In recent months, the Taliban and the US have held several meetings in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The militants also met Iranian representatives in Tehran last December.

Last week, the Taliban had threatened to stall all peace negotiations after the US refused to discuss the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

–IANS

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