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No legitimate reasons to delay intra-Afghan talks: Khalilzad

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KABUL: The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday said he sees no “legitimate reason” to delay the intra-Afghan negotiations.

The talks between Kabul peace force and the Taliban Qatar based members have once again postponed due to issues surrounding the prisoner release process. The Taliban are insisting on releasing their 5,000 prisoners agreed on the US-Taliban peace agreement. The Taliban says they will not sit in talks with Afghan peace team until all of their inmates are released. The government has so far freed nearly 6,000 Taliban prisoners, but the Taliban says some of them are not based on the list handed over to the government.

To end the deadlock, the government convened a Consultative Peace Jirga to decide the fate of 400 dangerous Taliban prisoners and the members of the Jirga approved their freedom. However, some foreign countries say those prisoners who were involved in killing of their troops and citizens in Afghanistan, must not be released, turning it to other controversies. The Afghan government has freed 80 dangerous Taliban prisoners out of 400, but the rest will not be released until the Taliban to free Afghan commandos and Special Forces members from their captivity. The prisoners’ release process has hit a wall and created so many obstacles on the way to the intra-Afghan talks which has been delayed several times.  

“Afghanistan lost Dr. Abdul Baqi Amin, a scholar with immense insights and an activist with an unshakable commitment to peace. His death at the hands of spoilers who seek to delay and derail Afghan peace is tragic,” Khalilzad said.

“We condemn this terrorist act and offer our condolences to his family, friends and the Afghan people who yearn for peace.”

He said the right tribute to Dr. Amin is for all sides to reduce violence and immediately start intra-Afghan negotiations. “There is no legitimate reason for delay”.

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