A six-member delegation from the Afghan government, entirely chosen by President Ashraf Ghani, is on its way to Doha to meet with the Taliban right after the US-Taliban deal scheduled to be signed on Saturday, sources said.
The Presidential Palace has called the team “a group to establish initial contacts” with the Taliban and they are meeting with the Taliban 'at the request of the Taliban and the United States'.
This meeting will be the first between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Part of the US-Taliban agreement, according to the Taliban, is the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, about which the US government wanted a meeting between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government.
The Afghan government had reservations about sending the team to meet with the Taliban only about prisoners, but it’s unclear whether the Taliban would be willing to discuss other issues as well with this small, govt-only team.
The US-Taliban deal is expected to be signed in Doha on Saturday. On the same day, the governments of Afghanistan and the United States are expected to issue a joint declaration to emphasize the US commitments for Afghanistan. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are expected to be in Kabul for the announcement of the declaration.