Afghan, Tal­iban pris­oner talks stall

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE -

THE AFGHAN peace talks ap­pear to have stalled with no ap­par­ent break­through in plans for a pris­oner swop be­tween the Afghan gov­ern­ment and the Tal­iban mil­i­tant group.

In ad­di­tion to a huge in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal rift, both war­ring sides have dif­fer­ing views about how the pris­oner ex­change should be car­ried out.

“Our po­si­tion on the re­lease of pris­on­ers re­mains un­changed,” the spokesper­son for Afghanista­n’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, Javid Faisal, tweeted yes­ter­day.

“The Tal­iban will have to stop killing Afghans and pro­vide guar­an­tees that those get­ting re­leased shall not be re­turn­ing to war.”

The US spe­cial en­voy for Afghanista­n peace, Zal­may Khalilzad, said on Wed­nes­day that Wash­ing­ton would like to see pris­oner re­leases be­gin as soon as pos­si­ble, in line with the agree­ment it signed with the mil­i­tant group last month.

“No pris­on­ers have been re­leased to date de­spite the com­mit­ment to do so ex­pressed by both sides,” Khalilzad said in a se­ries of tweets.

Ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment, up to 5 000 Tal­iban pris­on­ers should be re­leased ahead of the in­tra-Afghan ne­go­ti­a­tions that were planned to start on March 10.

Last week, Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani is­sued a de­cree that paves the way for the grad­ual re­lease of 1 500 Tal­iban pris­on­ers ahead of talks.

Another 3 500 Tal­iban pris­on­ers will be con­di­tion­ally re­leased in a sec­ond phase.

The first batch of pris­on­ers should have been re­leased on Satur­day, but this hasn’t hap­pened yet – and the mil­i­tants con­tinue their at­tacks.

The Tal­iban are de­mand­ing the re­lease of all 5 000 pris­on­ers ahead of any talks.

Khalilzad has sug­gested that tech­ni­cal teams from both sides could work to­gether on the re­lease of the pris­on­ers.

“The Tal­iban com­mit that re­leased pris­on­ers will abide by the com­mit­ments made in the peace agree­ment and not re­turn to the bat­tle­field,” Khalilzad said.

“A violation peace process.” will un­der­mine the

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