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Mullah Ghani Baradar to lead ongoing Taliban talks with US

KABUL: A top figure in Afghan Taliban hierarchy has been assigned the task to lead the ongoing negotiations with the US.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was appointed as the leader of its political office in Qatar. Mullah Baradar is among the four people including Mullah Omar, who founded the insurgent movement.

According to reports, Baradar, who remained in detention in Pakistan until last year, has been authorised to lead the political team and take decisions.

The Taliban issued a statement to announce Baradar’s appointment and a reshuffle in their team to put senior leaders into key positions as the talks with US officials gain momentum.

The statement said that the step had been taken to strengthen and properly handle the ongoing negotiations process with the United States.

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s meeting with the Taliban representatives, which was originally due to run over two days, entered its fourth day on Thursday.

It was not clear whether the talks were to continue on Friday, or how soon Baradar could join the talks.

Baradar had headed Taliban’s military operations in southern Afghanistan. He was arrested in 2010 by Pakistani intelligence officials.

His release, according to security experts, was part of high-level negotiations led by Khalilzad with the Taliban.