Sources close to the Taliban said that based on initial agreements between the engaged sides, the intra-Afghan negotiations will be held in Doha, a development that critics say will move the peace process forward if the talks happened.
The sources did not mention the time of the negotiations but said it has been agreed to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners from the Afghan government’s custody ahead of the talks.
The Afghan government has said that, to date, 2,710 Taliban prisoners have been released. The Taliban, on the other hand, has released 458 prisoners who the group claims are government forces members, according to information shared by the group.
The Afghan government, meanwhile, has said that it is prepared to send its delegation to the intra-Afghan negotiations, something that US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who started his new trip on June 5, will stress on his trip.
“The Afghan government has taken important steps in this process. The negotiation team of the Afghan government is ready to enter the talks and we have a strong national consensus for the peace process,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.
Khalilzad has traveled to Doha and will travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to the US Department of State.
“There is more possibility that the talks will be held in Qatar,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander. “I think Americans are firm in their commitment on the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 prisoners (of the Afghan government).”
The Taliban in a video has said that they have started an awareness campaign to their fighters in areas under their influence about the details of the peace deal with the US. But the group has not specified the location where the campaign has started.
“The enemies of God who say they will take the Taliban out of hideouts and will not give them even the legal rights, now, we have sat at one desk with them and they are accepting all conditions (from the Taliban) and are signing them,” said a Taliban commander in a video released by the group, addressing fighters of the group, and referring to the peace deal they signed with the US.
The Taliban has said that the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations is dependent on the release of their 5,000 prisoners.
“The release of prisoners has been pledged and it should not be delayed and Afghans should be released, as foreigners are not imprisoned with us,” said Musa Khan Akbarzada, former governor of Ghazni.