This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The Taliban has formed a new 20-member department responsible for holding intra-Afghan talks, as well as negotiations with the United States.
Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the militant group’s chief negotiator, told RFE/RL on August 26 that he will head the new department, which will be tasked with selecting the location and preparing the agenda for planned intra-Afghan peace talks.
The talks between the Taliban and the internationally backed government in Kabul are part of an earlier agreement reached between the militants and the United States in an effort to end nearly 19 years of war in Afghanistan.
However, the talks have recently been thrown into uncertainty after the Afghan government said it would not release more Taliban prisoners until the militant group freed more of its soldiers.
Stanikzai said the newly formed department is separate from the Doha-based Taliban political office and will be in direct contact with the Taliban leadership. He also said the intra-Afghan talks will be held in different countries.