ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States have identified nearly two dozen potential Taliban negotiators who are expected to be taken off the United Nations terror-list in a move that seeks to encourage insurgents to join the peace process.

This will be the second major step towards a political settlement of over a decade-long conflict in Afghanistan after Pakistan last week released at least 13 Taliban cadres from its jails.

According to official sources, the three countries have finalised the list of Taliban members for delisting from the UN sanctions list.

In the first phase, they will propose to the UN names of nearly two dozen Taliban members, who may play a crucial role in the Afghan endgame, sources added.

Names of these Taliban leaders have not been made public with one Pakistani official citing security reasons behind maintaining secrecy.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said removal of certain insurgents from the UN terror list would help restart the reconciliation process. “That is why we have supported this initiative,” he added.

More than 100 Taliban members were blacklisted for having ties with al Qaeda, which had been accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

In early 2010, at least 15 of those Taliban cadres were removed from the list at the request of the Afghan government because they had either severed their links with the Taliban or had joined the Karzai administration.

But the latest efforts to remove more names are aimed at sending a message to the Taliban that all stakeholders are serious for peace negotiations.

 

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