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Taliban appoints co-founder Baradar as top negotiator for talks with US

The Taliban has appointed a co-founder of the movement as the new head of their political office in Doha. Talks in Qatar have been held since Monday with US officials seeking to end 17 years of conflict in Afghanistan. “The esteemed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been appointed… head of the political bureau,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement released late Thursday. “This step has been taken to strengthen and properly manage the ongoing negotiations process with the US,” AFP quoted Mujahid as saying. The announcement comes as the insurgents said on Thursday they had held four straight days of talks with US officials in Doha. Baradar, formerly a number two of the Islamist group, helped Mullah Omar, who died in 2013, to found the Taliban movement.