KABUL, Afghanistan

The Taliban announced Thursday readiness to begin long overdue intra-Afgan negotiations beginning Sept. 12 in Doha, Qatar.

“The IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) intends to carry out the negotiation process well & establish durable peace & a pure Islamic system within the framework of Islamic values ​​& the highest interests of our country,” tweeted group spokesman Mohammed Naeem from their Qatar office.

The Afghan government earlier released six remaining insurgents that are to be kept under house arrest in Doha despite objections raised about their release by France and Australia for killing their citizens in terror attacks, an official told Anadolu Agency.

In a major reshuffle, Taliban insurgents named a 21-member delegation Sunday for peace talks with the Afghan government.

According to Zabiullah Mujahed, the group’s spokesman, the negotiation team was announced on the basis of a decree by Taliban chief Mulla Hibat Ullah.

“Sheikh Mawlawi Abdul Hakim appointed as head of negotiation team & Mr. Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai as deputy. Dr. Muhammad Naeem Wardak appointed as spokesperson of Political Office,” he tweeted.

The new top peace negotiator Hakim has served as the shadow chief justice for the militants, replacing Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai who led a months-long peace parley leading to a landmark deal with the US in February.

The Afghan government has already named its team of negotiators for proposed direct talks in the Qatari capital later this week.

As per the US-Taliban deal, more than 5,000 insurgents and 1,000 security forces kept captives by Afghan parties to the conflict are to be freed before talks commence.

The development came on the heels of a Taliban delegation led by deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s visit to Pakistan last month. 

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