KABUL: As coronavirus outbreak is spiraling out of control, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has urged the Afghan government to expedite the release of Taliban prisoners.
In a statement, Khalilzad said that prisoner releases have become urgent in the face of coronavirus outbreak. He reiterated the U.S. commitment to the continuation of the peace process. “We will continue consultations with all relevant sides about this,” he said.
“Technical teams from both sides can work together and focus on technical steps to begin prisoner releases as soon as possible. I will participate in the initial meetings. While preferable to meet face-to-face, Coronavirus and the resulting travel restrictions likely requires virtual engagement for now,” he said.
He also urged all sides to avoid provocative media statements. “The Taliban commit that released prisoners will abide by the commitments made in the peace agreement and not return to the battlefield. A violation will undermine the peace process,” he added.
“The United States would like to see prisoner releases begin as soon as possible in line with the U.S.-Taliban agreement. No prisoners have been released to date despite the commitment to do so expressed by both sides,” he said.