US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has arrived in Qatar to join the opening ceremony of intra-Afghan dialogue that is expected to start in a couple of days. The State Department says Khalilzad will be traveling in the region to ‘advance ongoing US efforts to promote the immediate start of intra-Afghan negotiations’. “The Afghan people are ready for a sustainable reduction in violence and a political settlement that will end the war. Afghan leaders must seize this historic opportunity for peace. All sides have taken important steps to remove obstacles for the start of talks. Now is the time to start,” a statement issued by the State Department said. The talks were expected to start on Monday but were delayed as the Afghan government’s negotiation team could not arrive in Doha, the venue of the first round of negotiations. The Afghan media reported that a Qatari special plane arrived in Kabul on Sunday but the team could not depart.Taliban political representatives have met in Qatar to chalk out a strategy for intra-Afghan negotiations to decide a future set up in Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday. Taliban’s new political spokesman Dr Naeem Wardak said a meeting took place among members of the political office and negotiation team under the leadership of the Political Deputy Mullah Baradar Akhund on Saturday. Baradar introduced the new Chairman of the negotiation team Sheikh Abdul Hakim Haqqani and members of the negotiation team as well as the Political Office, gave necessary instructions to everyone regarding their new duties and prayed for the success of everyone in their new roles and responsibilities.Hakim, who was appointed head of the negotiation team by the Taliban chief Sehikh Hibatullah on Saturday, also spoke on the occasion. Hakim, the Taliban’s incumbent chief justice, is considered as a right hand of the Taliban chief, who has also huge influence among the Taliban, according to the Taliban leaders who know him. Hakim, who replaced Sher Abbas Stanekzai, would lead a 21-member team in dialogue with the government team in Qatar that could start in days. Stanekzai has been appointed as deputy of the negotiation team.The negotiation team include 13 members of the ‘Rehbari Shura’, the leadership council, who will directly answerable to the chief. The negotiations were initially scheduled to start on March 10 but Taliban refused to join the process unless the Afghan government released 5,000 Taliban prisoners. The government has now freed almost all prisoners. Taliban have also freed 1,000 government’s prisoners under the deal. Officials at the Afghanistan’s State Ministry for Peace Affairs have said in reported comments that the departure of the government team was delayed as Qatar is still in the process of making preparations. Reports also suggest that differences over the fate of 6 prisoners have yet to be resolved. France and Australia had raised objections at their release for their involvement in the killing of their nationals.There was a suggestion to shift the controversial prisoners to Qatar and detain them for some time until reservations of the two European countries are removed. The Taliban had earlier accused France and Australia of “sabotaging” the peace process and said the two countries had never approached them about the prisoners.