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Jailed Haqqani Network leader in Taliban team of peace negotiators

IANS  |  Kabul 

The Afghan on Tuesday announced a 14-member team of negotiators, comprising some new faces including a of the Network, to continue peace talks with the US.

In a statement, the said "talks with the American sides (will) continue" and given "the importance of the issue", its asked his deputy to appoint a new team of negotiators, news reported.

Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai, who was the of Taliban's political office in and has overseen a series of meetings with the US Special Envoy for Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, will continue to lead the negotiations, the report said.

Among the new appointees was Anas Haqqani, a son of Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, who died years ago due to although his death was reported only last year.

The senior was believed to have masterminded some of the deadliest attacks targeting US and Afghan security forces and their interests in the last 17 years of war.

The has pledged allegiance to the and is known to be coordinating its militant activities with the group.

Anas, a lesser-known figure in the Network now headed by his older brother Sirajuddin, was arrested in 2014 and remains in prison.

He was accused of directing the militant group's propaganda on and playing a crucial role in strategic decision-making and fundraising.

The Taliban on Tuesday renewed its demand for Anas' release to enable him be part of the team for talks.

"has been appointed a member of the negotiating team, but is still in prison. As he was a student (when he was arrested) and did not do any activity to lead to his imprisonment, therefore he should be released to start his new role as member of negotiating team," Taliban told

Four former inmates also figure in the list. Previously, a 10-member Taliban team was handling the negotiations with the US for ending the Afghan conflict.

The new team was formed a day after acting made an unannounced trip to and denied that he had received orders from to reduce its US military presence in the war-torn country.

The pull-out of foreign troops from is one of the Taliban's key demands in peace negotiations.

The two sides have held several rounds of talks in the and amid opposition by Afghan Ashraf Ghani's government, which insists on having a central role in the peace talks.

The Taliban has refused to engage with the government in



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First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 16:40 IST