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Afghanistan halts release of Taliban prisoners

Afghanistan will temporarily halt the release of Taliban prisoners till the Taliban frees a total of 200 Afghan security forces in their captivity.

So far, the government of Afghanistan has set free over 1,000 Taliban prisoners and will stop doing so until the Taliban frees a total of 200 security force members, Jawid Faisal, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said on Monday.

Militants have released 105 soldiers thus far, the NSC said.

Amid Kabul’s halting the process release, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen says they released 53 more Afghan government prisoners on Sunday and Monday in Faryab and Badghis provinces.

In March, President Ashraf Ghani ordered the phased release of thousands of imprisoned Taliban fighters, against the backdrop of his earlier refusal of the United States’ constant demand to do so as part of the U.S.-Taliban deal back in February.

In addition to releasing the prisoners, Ghani vowed to assemble an inclusive negotiating team to sit across the table from the Taliban. However, the political crisis in Afghanistan – where essentially two governments have declared themselves in power – has badly affected decision-making around peace talks.

As the political rift is daunting the peace process, it’s uncertain whether Dr. Abdullah’s faction will cooperate on negotiations led by Ghani, or boycott them and announce its own effort.

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