Afghan president to resume peace talks, signs release of Taliban prisoners

by Muizat Hameed
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The Afghanistan government have announced its readiness to start the long-awaited peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar.

The Government has acknowledged the guidance of a loya jirga, an excellent gathering of older folks, on Sunday to deliver 400 Taliban detainees, making ready for talks planned for closure of a war that has ground on since U.S.- sponsored Afghan powers removed a Taliban government in late 2001.

A government source said that President Ashraf Ghani would likely sign the decree to release the prisoners later today.

“Everyone is waiting for Ghani to sign on the decree. The original plan is to travel to Doha on Wednesday and the talks will begin on Sunday,” the source said.

U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who reached an agreement with the Taliban in February for the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops, welcomed the progress, having spent months trying to bring the militant movement to the negotiating table with the government.

“In the next few days, we expect the completion of prisoner releases, then travel of the Islamic Republic team to Doha, & from there the immediate start of intra-Afghan negotiations,” he said on Twitter.

The Taliban had demanded the release of last 400 of 5,000 prisoners to be freed, as a condition for joining peace talk.

But the government had been hesitant as these prisoners were involved in some of the worst violence, including a 2017 truck bombing near the German embassy in Kabul that killed more than 150 people – the deadliest attack in the 19-year insurgency.

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