KABUL: The Taliban on Tuesday named one of their captive leaders in Afghanistan as member of a peace negotiation team for the second round of talks with the U.S.
With this move, the Taliban are pushing for the release of Anas Haqqani, a top leader of their offshoot Haqqani Network.
The jailed militant has been charged with some of the deadliest attacks in Kabul.
Mullah Baradar, who is leading the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, named a total of 14 men led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai to hold talks with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad later this month in the capital Doha.
“Anas Haqqani has been appointed to the negotiation committee, but he has not been released [by the Afghan government] so far,” Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban spokesman, said in a tweet.
The U.S. envoy is on a tour to coordinate efforts for peace in Afghanistan with partners in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.
In a series of tweets following a meeting in Brussels with EU and NATO partners, Khalilzad said “jumpstarting” the intra-Afghan dialogue is an immediate priority.
“Our shared purpose is to reach a peace agreement (not a withdrawal agreement) that is worthy of the sacrifices made over decades of war,” he said.
This comes a day after President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani hinted to offer cease-fire and release prisoners in hopes of entering direct talks with the Taliban.
Ghani implemented two cease-fires last year, but only one was briefly reciprocated by the Taliban. The Taliban continue to avoid recognizing and meeting the Afghan government.