Taliban Demands Release Of Prisoners As Prelude To Peace

The Afghan Taliban Wednesday announced their readiness to exchange prisoners with the government in Kabul, in a rare move that comes amid a failure to restart peace talks between the two sides.

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Up until now, the Taliban had demanded the release of prisoners and the departure of foreign troops as a prerequisite for peace talks, but had not offered a prisoner exchange.

Pak Taliban says no less than sharia law
Pak Taliban says no less than sharia law

A Taliban statement said that the group had established a commission in charge of prisoner exchanges with “the enemy.”

“Special rules” apply to the exchange of prisoners, the statement said, without providing further details.

The commission could also deal with other entities abroad for exchanging Taliban prisoners that are held outside Afghanistan.

Taliban prisoners are also held by the United States, which led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

“If we have the coordinates of a Taliban prison, we will carry out an operation to free those captives from Taliban hands, but we do not have a mechanism for exchanging prisoners with the Taliban,” said General Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence.

The High Peace Council of Afghanistan – the body in charge of negotiating with the Taliban – does not have a mechanism for the exchange of prisoners, but the council “is working to determine those Taliban prisoners who can affect the peace talks,” said council member Shafiullah Shafi.

Face-to-face talks with the Taliban collapsed last summer. The group said earlier this month that it would not participate in informal talks set for sometime in March.

Source: GNA

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