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Taliban leaders released under US soldier swap deal to remain in Qatar for one year: MoFA

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Afghanistan on Tuesday said that the five Taliban leaders, who were released by the American authorities to free the captive US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, would remain in Qatar for one year.

The United States handed over the Taliban leaders Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Muhammad Nabi Omari, Khairullah Khairkhwah and Muhammad Fazil Aakhond to Qatar after release from Gitmo. They were released from the notorious Guantanamo detention center last year by the US authorities in order to free Bergdahl, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The US has put a ban on their travel for one year. Recently, the ban was extended for another year.

The ministry said that Washington and Doha has signed an agreement in this regard.

Spokesman of the MoFA, Ahmad Shekib Mustaghni, said the travel ban was extended by the US and Qatar. He said the decision was taken while keeping the national security of Afghanistan in view.

When asked about statement of the Pakistan’s National Assembly’s committee on foreign relations about transfer of Afghan Taliban to Kabul, the spokesman welcomed stance of the Pakistani lawmakers and said that talks between the two countries were held in friendly environment in this regard.

However, he stressed that Afghan government was expecting practical steps rather than statements.

Commenting on the deal between Qatar and the US regarding the travel ban on the Taliban leaders, the country’s High Peace Council (HPC) welcomed the step and said that it would help the Afghan government.

Speaking to Afghanistan Times, the HPC’s advisor on international affairs, Muhammad Ismail Qasimyar, said that any step which is taken to support the Afghan government is welcomed.

He said that if the travel restriction was not placed on the Taliban leaders, then the possibility was high that they could have returned to the front line to fight Afghan security forces.

Qasimyar said the peace council would support any measure that is aimed to help the Afghan-led peace process.

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