Afghan gov’t resumes release of Taliban prisoners

KABUL: The government of Afghanistan has resumed the release of Taliban detainees to clear hurdle on the way for talks with the armed group to find negotiated settlement to the country’s lingering crisis, a local media outlet reported Wednesday.
The Afghan government set free 200 Taliban detainees on Monday and Tuesday and would soon free the remaining 120 others to meet the Taliban demand for intra-Afghan dialogue to end the war in Afghanistan, 1TV said in its report.
Some 80 Taliban detainees out of 400 demanded by the Taliban were set free a couple of weeks ago. The exchange of 5,000 Taliban inmates with 1,000 Afghan security personnel is part of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal signed late February.
Moreover, About 120 prisoners remain to be freed in line with Taliban demands, including six whose release some Western governments, including Australia, have objected to. “We want to finish the prisoner swap so we could start the peace process as soon as possible,” said a senior government official, who sought anonymity because the issue is sensitive.
A source close to the process said it could be completed by Wednesday. A government-mandated negotiation team is likely to fly on Thursday to Doha, the initial venue for negotiations, said Fraidoon Kwazoon, the spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation. “Tomorrow the team is leaving for Doha,” he told Reuters, without saying when talks were expected to start. The 400 prisoners were the last of 5,000 whose release was agreed in a February pact between US and the Taliban allowing for the withdrawal of troops.–Agencies