U.S special envoy congratulates Afghan leaders on 'inclusive' team for Taliban talks

FILE PHOTO: U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad speaks during a debate at Tolo TV channel in Kabul, Afghanistan April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad congratulated Afghan political and civil society leaders on Friday on forming a negotiating team for talks with Taliban.

“This consensus is a meaningful step that moves the parties significantly closer to intra-Afghan negotiations,” he said on Twitter.

Late on Thursday, Afghanistan’s government announced a 21-member team to negotiate with the Taliban, in a tentative sign of progress for the United States-brokered peace deal that had previously been marred with delays, in part due to a bitter feud between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah.

Reporting by Orooj Hakimi; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Alex Richardson