Afghan, Taliban prisoner talks stall
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