The Taliban Movement’s political office spokesman in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, confirmed that the details of the release were discussed during a videoconference that the two parties to the conflict held with the participation of teams from the United States, Qatar and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Taliban, he says, will send a technical verification team to Bagram prison “for the identification, confirmation and release of prisoners according to the list already provided.”
Also the US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s special envoy for Afghanistan, confirmed that “the two sides agreed that the prisoner releases will begin on March 31.”
Khalilzad called the agreement “a positive development” and assured that the technical meetings will continue “to ensure that the process runs smoothly.”
The US envoy and the Taliban spokesman did not specify how many prisoners would be released on Dec. 31.
At the end of last February, representatives of the US and the Taliban Movement signed an agreement in Doha that, in addition to cutting the US military contingent in Afghanistan, provides for the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and up to 1,000 prisoners on the government side to pave the way for intera-Afghan dialogue.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was reluctant at this point at first, insisting on negotiating it separately, but then ordered 1,500 Taliban released.
Afghan Presidency spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the released insurgents should pledge not to return to the battlefield and would leave in groups of 100 over a period of 15 days.
The remaining 3,500 prisoners, he said, would be released in groups of 500 every two weeks, after direct dialogue with the Taliban had been established and on condition that the Taliban pledged to reduce violence.
Thursday 26 March 2020 09:13