US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who met with Afghan leaders this week, said the intra-Afghan negotiations between the Afghan government’s team and the Taliban “must begin immediately,” and adding that the prisoner releases, which are a precursor for start of the talks, have reached a new milestone.
On Thursday evening, President Ghani at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council, vowed to release another 2,000 prisoners, something that has been requested from him frequently to move the peace process forward.
“We welcome the government now having exceeded 3,000 Talib prisoners released and the Taliban 500+. It is important that the process continues, and the prisoners release roadblock resolved,” Khalilzad said.
He said that “the Afghan-owned, Afghan-led negotiations between the inclusive Islamic Republic team and the Taliban negotiating team must begin immediately thereafter. From the start, getting to intra-Afghan negotiations (IAN) has been a key objective of our diplomacy.”
“We welcome the Taliban statement specifying they will participate in intra-Afghan negotiations within one week of the prisoner release commitment outlined in our agreement. Although many practical details need to be worked out, these developments are all very positive,” he said.
Khalilzad added that the US welcomes the Taliban statement specifying they will participate in IAN within one week of the prisoner release commitment outlined in our agreement.
“Although many practical details need to be worked out, these developments are all very positive,” he said.
Based on the US-Taliban agreement, 5,000 Taliban prisoners should be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, something that now looks closer to happen as the government has released at least 3,000 Taliban prisoners.