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U.S. seeks Taliban guarantees before prisoner swap

In a stunning litany of oscillating positions and refusals, Kabul has offered to free 1,500 Taliban prisoners, signalling its desire to reconcile – alas the hardline militant faction has rejected the offer

AT News

KABUL: The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan peace Zalmay Khalilzad has said the Taliban have to implement all clauses of the peace agreement, stressing that the militant group should guarantee their fighters won’t join the battlefield after they are freed.

This is as President Ashraf Ghani signed a decree on Tuesday night to conditionally and gradually free Taliban militants from Afghanistan prisons, signalling a green signal for the militants about intra-Afghan negotiations. The Taliban have rejected the offer, however.

Khalilzad has said that intra-Afghan negotiations will determine whether the future government of Afghanistan will be republic or emirate and that the United States will be supporting the talks. “The Taliban should guarantee that their fighters will not fight again after their release,” he said, “How can their prisoners be freed and then they take back their arms and fight again”.

Regarding the ongoing political crisis and Dr. Abdullah’s dissenting self-proclaimed government, Khalilzad said that feud between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah will be resolved and that Abdullah and his supporters will have their role consolidated in the current government.

“I am optimistic there will be an agreement in place. Kabul and Islamabad will also negotiate an agreement to prevent their countries from being used against each other,” Khalilzad said.

This is as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree early Wednesday promising to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started. A recent peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban called for the release of up to 5,000 prisoners ahead of the much sought-after negotiations.

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