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Pompeo, Taliban negotiators discuss peace process

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KABUL: The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had held a video meeting with Taliban negotiators lead by Mullah Baradar the group’s deputy leader and head of Qatar Political Office, in which they discussed the start of the Intra-Afghan negotiations.

Taliban Qatar Office Spokesman, Suhail Shaheen said the virtual meeting held on Monday evening, where both sides talked about the inception of the intra-Afghan negotiations and the status, emphasizing over the release of the remaining prisoners which are essential for commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations. The Secretary of State had welcomed the Taliban’s declaration of ceasefire during Eid days.

The biggest problem ahead of intra-Afghan talks is the prisoner process that is further complicated after the Taliban emphasized on freeing all of their 5,000 prisoners, in which the government opposed. 

Government has released over 4,500, but not ready to release around 400 inmates that are involved in big crimes, including murders, drug trafficking, abduction, moral crimes and rape charges.

In that milieu, the government is going to convene consultative Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) to consult with the nation about 400 controversial Taliban prisoners. President Ghani during his Eid message in response to the three days ceasefire and also as a goodwill gesture had announced releasing of 500 Taliban prisoners who are not part of the Taliban list. They were released from all provinces considering all tribes’ significance till 4th of Eid. With this, 5,100 Taliban prisoners were released, exceeding 100 from 5,000 prisoners.

The consultative Loya Jirga will be held on coming Friday.

President Ghani has made it clear to the nation that these 400 Taliban prisoners are charged with big crimes and according to the Constitution and the punishment code, he being as president of Afghanistan has no authority to release them. But he said that it doesn’t mean the government response is negative on their releasing. 

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