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Put country first, learn from past mistakes: Khalilzad to Afghan leaders

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KABUL: The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad has said that despite serious challenges, the peace-efforts reached an optimistic state for ending the four decades war in Afghanistan.

In a message congratulating the 101st anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day, he said that Afghans want peace and that “intra-Afghan negotiations-led by Afghans would begin soon.”

Khalilzad called on the Afghan leaders to take steps for facilitation of intra-Afghan negotiations. “(They-Afghan leaders) should place their country on priority, learn from the past mistakes, and reach a political agreement.” He added. “This path is for ending the war, and reaching a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.”  

The US and NATO led mission top commander, Gen. Scott Miller, extending congratulations on the 101st anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day, has called on the Afghan war parties to cease a reduction in violence and lay out a peace path.

The long waited intra-Afghan negotiations were supposed to be started in the near future after the tradition assembly Consultative Loya-Jirga called for the release of 400 dangerous Taliban prisoners, but negotiations have been delayed as the government still denies to set free the 320 Taliban prisoners.

The government said the process was suspended as the Taliban did not release Afghan government hostages under Taliban custody

 “The government of Afghanistan is committed to complete this (prisoner swap) process but the reason this process is not completed is the Taliban’s failure to free government prisoners,” said President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi.

But the Taliban Qatar based office’s spokesman, Suhail Shaheen said that the Afghan government made excuses to postpone the negotiations.

Sources privy to the issue, who wished to go unnamed, said that the militants took hostage of 22 Afghan commandos. Ghani called a Consultative Loya-Jirga composed of over 3,000 members from across the country to decide whether the 400 Taliban prisoners, who committed major crimes, are released or kept imprisoned by the government. The Afghan President said that the decision to set free these dangerous prisoners was out of his authority. 

Following the decision of the Loy Jirga on releasing 400 Taliban fighters, the governments of Australia and France called on the Afghan government not to free those prisoners, who were behind the murdering of Australian and French citizens.

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