Kabul, March 27 (IANS) The Afghan government has constituted a 21-member team to hold direct talks with the Taliban to find a negotiated settlement for long-standing peace in the war-torn country, the Ministry for Peace said on Friday.
Headed by a former counter-intelligence agency’s chief Mohammad Masoom Stanikzai, the members of the negotiating team were selected after comprehensive consultations and discussions with all segments of society including political parties assigned to represent Afghanistan in peace talks with the Taliban, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry as saying.
After over 18 months of talks, the US and Taliban inked the long-awaited peace deal on February 29 to end Washington’s longest war in its history, withdraw thousands of its troops from Afghanistan and facilitate the peace talks between the armed group and the Kabul government to ensure national reconciliation.
Under the agreement, the US assured Taliban to secure the release of 5,000 militants from Afghan government jails and in return, the Taliban agreed to set free 1,000 Afghan detainees.
To initiate peace talks and ensure the release of prisoners, both the Afghan government and the Taliban have held two lengthy teleconferences over the past week.
A Taliban delegation was reported to visit Bagram jail north of Kabul within days to identify the detainees listed for release.