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President Ashraf Ghani in a decree on Saturday approved 48 members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, which is led by Abdullah Abdullah, thus taking a major step towards preparing for the imminent intra-Afghan talks.

Ghani in his decree called on religious scholars, the parliament, the private sector, media and provincial councils to introduce their picks for membership of the council within a week. 

The members of the council announced in the decree are former president Hamid Karzai, former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili, former deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq, former vice president Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanooni, former foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, former mujahideen leader and former minister of energy and water Mohammad Ismalil Khan, former Balkh governor and CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami Atta Mohammad Noor, head of Maaz-e-Milli party Sayed Hamid Gailani, Zabihullah Mujaddedi, political and religious figure Sayed Mansoor Nadery, political and religious figure Enayatullah Shahrani, former deputy chief executive and political figure Engineer Mohammad Khan, head of Afghanistan’s Ulema Council, former head of the Administrative Office of the President Sadiq Modabir, Mohammad Ismail Ghazanfar and Mawlawi Khodaidad Saleh.

According to the decree, members of the council from the government are First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh, Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, Meshrano Jirga Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar, Wolesi Jirga Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani, presidential adviser Almas Zahid, state minister for peace affairs (that has not been appointed so far) and presidential advisor Mawlawi Jora Tahiri. 

Women members of the council are civil society activist Safia Sediqqi, former MP Najiba Ayubi, a member of the Afghan Women’s Network Mari Akrami, civil society activist Zia Gul Rezaee, member of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Alia Yulmaz, former higher education minister Farida Mohmand, chairperson of medical council of Afghanistan Nasrin Oryakhil and civil society activist Zarqa Yaftali.

According to the decree, the leadership members of the council are Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdul Salam Rahimi deputy head of the council, Enayatullah Farahmand deputy head of the council, Asadullah Saadati deputy head of the council, Zuhra Mutahari former deputy governor of Paktia, member of Afghanistan Ulema Council Atta-Ur-Rahman Salim, head of Hizb-e-Islami Nawin Din Mohammad, political figure Akram Khpulwak, head of negotiation team Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, special presidential envoy Noor-Ul-Haq Olumi.

Based on the political agreement signed between Ghani and Abdullah in May, President Ghani authorizes members of the High Council for National Reconciliation by issuing a decree. 

The agreement says the High Council of Government will be established to ensure political consensus in the country. Political leaders and national figures will be members.

This follows Abdullah Abdullah's announcement on Thursday that the intra-Afghan negotiations will start this week. The first round of the talks are expected to be held in Doha.