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Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s chief executive, welcomed Kabul’s decision Sunday to send a delegation to engage with the Taliban, saying he hoped they would present a “unified position” for the Afghan people.

As part of a determined effort to end the country’s 17-year-old war, Kabul had earlier announced it would send representatives to “exchange views” with Taliban officials in a new round of negotiations, which are scheduled to take place in Doha, the Qatari capital, later this month.

US and Taliban officials have held several rounds of talks but the Islamist militant group has so far refused to negotiate directly with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime.

“We need to have governmental and nongovernmental politicians in one platform, and talk future peace and reconciliation,” Abdullah told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

“The aim of [the delegation] is to present a unified position of [the] people of Afghanistan.”

Mohammad Omar Daudzai, President Ashraf Ghani’s envoy for peace, said the delegation would serve only to exchange views with the Taliban, and its members would not necessarily be the same as a formal team of negotiators.

Officials will meet Wednesday in Kabul to finalize delegates, and to decide who might comprise an official negotiating team.

In a statement, the Taliban said the upcoming Doha talks would clarify participants’ “views and policies and sharing their stance.”

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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