Afghanistan on eve of peace talks as prisoner release approved

Afghanistan on eve of peace talks as prisoner release approved

Kabul, (UNA-OIC) – Afghanistan’s government is on the eve of peace talks with Taliban militants now that a grand assembly has advised the government to release 400 Taliban prisoners still in custody, the lead government peace negotiator said on Sunday.

Abdullah Abdullah said that the resolution removed the last remaining obstacle to the beginning of talks between the Afghan government and the insurgent Taliban.

Some 3,400 participants of the assembly voted yes to the question of whether the prisoners – all convicted of significant crimes – should be released.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who was present at the loya jirga, said that, as far as he knew, after the government released the 400 prisoners – expected within two or three days – the Afghan negotiating team, led by former Afghan spy chief, Masoom Stanakzai, would start negotiating with the Taliban.

The Taliban has not yet commented on the results of the assembly.

Earlier, Abdullah said that, after the release of prisoners, the first round of the talks would begin in the Qatari city of Doha.

In a deal the Taliban militants signed with the US in February in Doha, the group was obliged to cut ties with the international terror group, and begin talks with the government. In return, all foreign forces will leave Afghanistan.

The beginning of the highly expected talks would be historic, as the Taliban for the past 19 years have repeatedly refused any negotiations with the government.

AG/UNA-OIC

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