Afghan peace deal: Afghan government and Taliban to discuss prisoners release

Kabul: Afghan officials are set to meet with the Taliban representatives to discuss the initial release of prisoners in accordance with the US-Taliban peace deal.

In a statement, Afghanistan’s National Security Council (NSC), said, “To carry out these further discussions, a Taliban team will meet with the government face-to-face in Afghanistan in the coming days.”

“The Peace Initial Contact Group (PICG) met virtually with the Taliban and discussed initial technical steps for prisoner release. Subject to further discussions, and pursuant to Pres. Ghani’s decree, 100 prisoners will be freed on humanitarian grounds – including health, age and vulnerability to #COVID19 – by March 31 after guarantees by Taliban and the prisoners that they will not re-enter the fight,” the statement added.

The issue of prisoner release has been a major hurdle since the US and Taliban signed a deal in Doha on February 29, as President Ashraf Ghani had objected on the prisoner swap agreed between United States and Taliban, and stressed that prisoner release is an internal Afghan matter, and US had no right to discuss such initiatives without consulting the Afghan government.

The progress on the deadlock is possibly an effect after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at Afghan leaders and threatened to cut US aid to Afghanistan on their failure to come to an agreement regarding Afghan presidential elections.