Afghanistan Releases 400 Taliban Prisoners to Start Peace Talks

Kabul, MINA – The Afghan President following a recommendation from the Afghan Traditional Council on Sunday (9/8), they to free the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners to pave the way for peace talks aimed at ending nearly two decades of war.

“The Taliban must show that they are not afraid of a comprehensive ceasefire. No great courage is needed for war, but for peace,” Ashraf Ghani told Loya Jirga, which started on Friday (7/8), Anadolu Agency reported.

The release of the remaining prisoners will take place on August 19, Afghanistan’s Independence Day.

More than 3,000 community leaders, who gathered in the capital Kabul, approved the release and called for the immediate start of negotiations, a ceasefire and international guarantees that the rebels will not commit violence again.

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The exchange and release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 prisoner security forces was agreed in a landmark deal between Washington and the Taliban in February.

Under the deal, the US committed to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by July 2021.

In return, the rebels promised to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghan soil to attack and seek reconciliation with other Afghan groups through a dialogue process.

Kabul has released all but balks at the release of the last 400 “core” prisoners.

The announcement was welcomed by Pakistan, the country which has also facilitated Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in negotiating a deal with the Taliban.

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“Pakistan welcomes Loya Jirga’s recommendation to President Ashraf Ghani to free the remaining Taliban prisoners from their list of 5,000 prisoners,” Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said on Twitter.

“The main obstacle to the Intra Afghanistan Negotiation Path will be removed with the implementation of this recommendation,” he added.

Negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul’s political leadership are expected to begin soon, and most likely in Qatar. (T/R7/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)