Taliban forces in Afghanistan admit to starting peace talks with the Kabul government “a week later” after the release of 400 prisoners.
“Our position is clear, if the (Taliban) prisoners are released, we will approach contacts with Afghans the following week,” Talhaman spokesman Suhail Shaheen told France Presse recalling that the first negotiation took place in Doha .
An assembly made up of “thousands of Afghan” representatives, local officials and tribal chiefs accepted the release of 400 Taliban prisoners accused of serious crimes, one of the issues that prevent negotiations from resuming.
“The Afghan government is going to start releasing the 400 Taliban prisoners within two days,” National Security Council spokesman Javid Fasial told AFP.
Taliban official Shuail Shahenn said the insurgent delegation will be headed by Abbas Stanekzai, chief Taliban negotiator at meetings with US representatives in Doha in February.
The release of prisoners is considered a “key point” in the agreement between Washington and the Taliban that aims to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by mid-2021 but commits the Taliban to start negotiations with the Kabul government.
“We are about to start peace talks,” Abdullah Abdullah, government official for the talks, said on Sunday.
“Discussions between Afghans should start two or three days after the release of the 400 Taliban prisoners,” said former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who remained in power between 2001 and 2014, meanwhile.
The future of the prisoners represents a crucial point for the reopening of business contacts.
So far, Kabul has released 5,000 prisoners but has refused to release the 400 inmates claimed by Taliban forces.
Among the group of 400 prisoners are insurgents of various nationalities, including those from France.