Afghan Peace Agreement: Taliban to end 'fruitless' meeting over prisoner exchange 1

Afghan Peace Agreement: Taliban to end ‘fruitless’ meeting over prisoner exchange

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The insurgents say the Taliban will no longer participate in “useless” discussions with the Afghan government, which is an important part of the exchange of prisoners of war with the US.

In a tweet first sent in Pashto around midnight Tuesday Afghanistan time (1930 GMT Monday), the Taliban’s political spokesman Suhail Shaheen blamed the administration of President Ashraf Ghani for delaying the prisoner release “under one pretext or another”.

“Therefore, our technical team will not participate in fruitless meetings with relevant sides starting from tomorrow,” Shaheen, who is based in Doha, said in a subsequent tweet in English.

Since last week, the two enemies are holding talks in Kabul with a view to completing the prisoner exchange that should have taken place on March 10.

Mattin Bek, a member of the government’s negotiating team, said the release has been postponed because the Taliban demanded the release of 15 “high commanders”.

“We cannot release the killers of our people,” Bek told reporters on Monday.

“We don’t want them to go back to the battlefield and capture a whole province.”

Baker also said the government is willing to release up to 400 Taliban prisoners with fewer threats in exchange for a “rather big” goodwill gesture to reduce violence, but the Taliban rejected the proposal.

Washington signed an agreement with the Taliban in late February demanding that the Afghan government (not a signatory to the agreement) release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and release 1,000 rebel prisoners in return.

Observers say that this imbalance is one of the many aspects of the agreement and provides a better deal for the Taliban.

Under the agreement, Washington pledged to withdraw US and foreign troops from Afghanistan by July next year, provided the Taliban began talking to Kabul and other guarantees.

The Taliban issued a statement on Sunday accusing the Afghan government of violating the “peace deal” between the United States and rebels, although the Taliban have killed dozens of security forces since the agreement was signed.

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