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Afghanistan govt team to join peace talks with Taliban in UAE – report

An Afghan peace negotiations team has arrived in Abu Dhabi, an official said Tuesday. The previous day, the talks attended by US and Taliban representatives were held in the city aimed at ending the 17-year conflict, AFP reported. The team, led by chief negotiator Abdul Salam Rahimi, “arrived in Abu Dhabi to begin proximity dialogue with the Taliban delegation and to prepare for a face-to-face meeting between the two sides,” the Afghan presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri tweeted. The 12-person team was first announced in November by President Ashraf Ghani as part of a diplomatic effort to bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks with the government in Kabul. However, the Taliban have not confirmed a meeting, and issued a statement on Monday reiterating their long-standing vow not to speak with Afghan officials. In a message released on Tuesday the militants said they had held “preliminary talks” with the US State Department’s special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Monday. The US did not confirm direct meetings between Khalilzad and the Taliban in Abu Dhabi.