The Afghan government is working on plans to remove problems in the way of peace, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar said Sunday, pledging that the challenges will be addressed in near future.
Atmar, who addressed a press conference in Kabul, said the Loya Jirga, the grand council, put five conditions on the Taliban besides approving the release of 400 of their prisoners, but, according to him, the Taliban has not met these conditions so far.
Atmar called the high level of violence "regrettable" and said the international community has some considerations about the release of some prisoners, but the government is working to achieve a consensus in this respect.
“We are very saddened about the continuation of violence. This is one of the five issues that was stressed by the consultative Loya Jirga,” Atmar said.
Atmar said one of the reasons behind the lack of implementation of the Loya Jirga decisions is inattention by the Taliban to an unconditional start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.
“The world has protested. Yes, the world has protested. You have heard about it and you have made stories on it. Our work will be to create consensus on it with the world. A type of consensus that will not harm Afghanistan’s national interests,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nadir Naderi, a member of the negotiation team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, said the team is ready for talks.
“Considering the goodwill that the negotiation team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has, the Taliban should get ready as soon as possible so that we can begin the negotiations. We are ready to get on the plane within an hour,” Naderi said.
The Taliban, however, has stressed that they will not attend the talks until the release of the 400 prisoners is completed.
According to government data, out of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death, 105 of them are accused of murder, 34 of them are accused of kidnapping that led to murder, 51 of them are accused of drug smuggling, 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies, six of them are accused of assorted other crimes, four are accused of unspecified crimes.
The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are now expected to be held in Doha.
Last week, the consultative Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of Afghan elders, approved the release of the 400 Taliban prisoners, a step that was seen as a key push for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.
At the same event, Atmar and Naderi, who is also head of the Independent Administrative Affairs and Civil Service Commission, signed an agreement on reforms in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Atmar said that with the new plan, appointments in the ministry will be apart from political interventions and that candidates will be appointed through free competition.