“The Taliban have announced the resolution of a potential split”

Senior members of the Taliban have announced the resolution of a potential split within the group’s leadership following Mullah Omar’s death, with previously divided factions pledging their allegiance Tuesday to the group’s new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. In a Pashto-language statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the agreement to unite behind Mansoor’s leadership came during a meeting of prominent clerics and elders. Omar’s eldest son, Mohammad Yaqoob, and his brother Mullah Abdul Manan announced their full support for Mansoor, who also was present at the gathering on Tuesday.  Jarrett Blanc, the acting U.S. government’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters in Islambad that he is optimistic that peace talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul can resume soon. “I have every hope that the Taliban will soon return to the dialogue,” Blanc said after meeting with Pakistani civilian and military leaders. Afghanistan’s government is ready to resume talks with the Taliban, the U.S. envoy said, and no other “irritant” should derail the peace process once the Taliban decides to resume negotiations.

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