A source told TOLOnews that an Afghan government team that was sent to Doha before the signing of Saturday’s peace deal has established contact with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi on Friday, Feb. 28, announced that a delegation had been sent to Doha a day before Saturday’s signing of the US-Taliban agreement. Such a meeting would be the first between the Taliban and the Afghan government and would be in advance of the intra-Aghan talks.
“The main duty of the delegation is to meet the Taliban and hear their primary suggestions and share it with the government,” Sediqqi said. “We will see what issues the Taliban are raising. Is it the release of prisoners, negotiations, or other issues?”
Sediqqi said that the prisoner release is not a pre-condition for beginning the intra-Afghan negotiations, but it will be part of it.
A source close to the negotiations said the Afghan government delegation has made contact with the Taliban and that they plan to discuss the prisoner release in the future.
“It was the demand of the Qatari government that the Afghan government should send a delegation to Qatar so that they discuss the prisoner release with the Taliban,” said the source.
The Taliban has not confirmed the contact of its members with the government team.
President Ghani at a press conference in Kabul on Sunday said the government does not have any commitment to release 5,000 Taliban leaders as part of efforts to begin intra-Afghan negotiations.
A member of the High Peace Council said that the prisoner release would be the main topic of a meeting between a government delegation and the Taliban and that some flexibility can be expected in the president’s stance on this matter.
“The government is claiming that it will not release the prisoners… It might change in a few days,” said Rahim Beg Yaqubi, member of the High Peace Council.
Salim Shah Ibrahimi, the deputy head of the National Security Council; Abdul Khaliq Balakarzai, the deputy minister of the state ministry for peace affairs; Zakia Adeli, deputy minister of justice; Faizullah Zaki, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Aminullah Muzaffari, the deputy minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs; and Totakhil, the head of prisoners affairs are the six members of the government’s team that were sent to Doha.