The Afghan government has begun work on the formation of the High Reconciliation Council which will define the authorities of the 21-member peace negotiating team intended to hold intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban, said Dawa Khan Menapal, a deputy spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani.
He said that intra-Afghan talks will start once the High Reconciliation Council has defined the authorities of the peace negotiating team.
“The reconciliation council will determine the agenda of the talks and the authorities of the peace negotiating team,” said Menapal.
Meanwhile, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has welcomed the formation of the peace negotiating team by the Afghan government.
“I want to congratulate Afghan government, political & civil society leaders for coming together. They’ve forged an inclusive negotiating team for talks with the Taliban. The Islamic Republic delegation reflects the true tapestry of the nation and the instrumental role of women,” tweeted Khalilzad.
“This consensus is a meaningful step that moves the parties significantly closer to intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Khalilzad.
“The most important thing is the right of the people, the transitional justice, the rights of war victims and the freedom of speech–those who are involved in the murder of the journalists should be made accountable,” said Mujib Khalwatgar, the head of NAI, an organization supporting open media in Afghanistan.
But the Taliban in a statement has said that the group has some reservations about the peace negotiating team formed by the Afghan government and that the Afghan government can take part in the intra-Afghan talks only as a side like other Afghan factions.
“The team announced by the (Afghan govt) is…against the peace agreement between the Taliban and the US,” said the statement.
One chosen government delegate said the team should have enough authority to adjust the agenda for the talks.
“Members of the negotiating team should have the updated agenda for talks, because there is a possibility for some changes on the agenda during the negotiations. The delegation also needs to have the legitimate authority to update the agenda and conclude a successful negotiation,” said Shahla Farid, a member of the peace negotiating team.