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US, Taliban in talks over the biggest prisoner release

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KABUL: The United States and Taliban are negotiating a possible release of more than 5,000 militant prisoners and a reduction of Taliban violence before a peace deal could be struck, according to sources privy to the developments, in what is seen as an unprecedented concession to the militant group amid a desperation for reconciliation.

The peace negotiations between the US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators enter the 10th round. The latest round was paused early December as the two sides went to consult their leaderships on the finalizing of peace deal.

Taliban and Khalilzad have been holding unofficial meetings since last week in Qatar.

Jalaluddin Shinwari, attorney general in Taliban government (1996-2001), said Sunday that the two sides were busy on when and where to sign the final deal.

“The Americans are emphasizing on violence reduction in Afghanistan and Taliban are urging the release of five prisoners,” Shinwari said, adding that the US had b probably agreed with the freedom of five Taliban inmates prior to the signing of the peace deal.

He said that Taliban leader was yet to agree with the violence reduction, adding that the date and place of the deal signing would be soon announced.

The US officials have not yet commented on the report.

The deal was planned to be signed last week, but a former Taliban official Sayed Akbar Agha said that recent developments such as Iraq incidents caused a postponement in the signing of deal.

“I think the latest incidents brought changes in the timeline, and the countries who back Iran will not probably attend the ceremony of signing.”

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