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Peace talks expected to begin ‘next week’

AT News

KABUL: The government-run high council for national reconciliation says they expect to hold the first round of negotiations with the Taliban delegation next week.

Hajji Din Mohammad, deputy chairman of the council said Tuesday that the talks would begin “next week”.

Prior to his statement, his boss Abdullah Abdullah had said that the negotiations would begin “this week”.

But Mohammad said that Taliban would join the negotiation one week after the release of their comrades from government custody.

“We need one week after the release of last Taliban prisoner to hold talks. We are fully ready for the talks and wait for Taliban team,” he said.

The Taliban insist on the release of all their 400 colleagues from government jails as the only precondition to hold talks with Ghani administration.

The government restarted releasing of the 320 Taliban prisoners after freeing 80 of them some two weeks ago.

Sources in the government said that 70 prisoners were released late Monday from Pol-e-Charkhi jail.

“The restart of prisoner release is a positive step and we hope this process complete soon so that we hold intra-Afghan talks,” Suhail Shahin, Taliban’s political spokesman said.

The government who accepted to release all the 400 prisoners after the Loya Jirga agreed with the release, delayed the process following an objection by France, Australia and Norway.

These countries claim that some of the prisoners are responsible for killing their soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

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