Taliban name negotiating team before new talks with US

The team includes captive Anas Haqqani, whose elder brother is deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani network.

The Taliban has named a 14-member team of negotiators, including five former Guantanamo Bay inmates and a high-profile jailed leader, for the second round of talks with the United States.

With the move announced on Tuesday, the group has pushed for the release of Anas Haqqani, younger brother of the leader of the powerful Taliban faction, Haqqani network. He is currently held in a jail in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said Haqqani “should be released to start work on the negotiating team”. He said Haqqani “was a student at the time of his arrest and was not involved in any activity for which he should be arrested”. 

The Taliban negotiating team has been announced in advance of talks this month with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been meeting with the armed group in Qatar’s capital Doha to try to end America’s longest war.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai will head the team, which includes five former inmates of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay who were released in 2014 in exchange for US Sergeant. Bowe Bergdahl, captured by the Taliban in 2009 after wandering off his base.

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