President Ghani took an important step toward intra-Afghan talks by nominating 21 government representatives to negotiate with the Taliban. Crisis Group expert Andrew Watkins says this list seems to enjoy broad consensus among Afghan political figures, which earlier lists had lacked. The timing of the release – less than a day after U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo visited Kabul, harshly criticised both Ghani and Abdullah for failing to come together and prepare for peace talks, and threatened to cut one billion dollars in aid – underscores the influence the U.S. has over Kabul and the priority the U.S. attaches to moving peace efforts forward.