The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Afghan govt insists on release of commandos ahead of talks

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By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: The Presidential Palace on Saturday said the intra-Afghan negotiations will not begin unless 24 Afghan commandos and pilots are released by the Taliban, something that is seen as one of the key obstacles in the way of peace.

The Afghan government has so far released over 5,000 Taliban prisoners, including 80 high-value inmates whose release was approved by Loya Jirga, grand council, earlier this month.

According to government data, out of the 400 high-value prisoners, 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, 6 of them are accused of assorted other crimes, 4 are accused of unspecified crimes.

According to presidential spokesman, the Taliban has shown less flexibility towards the release of prisoners so far. “They [Taliban] have not completed the 1,000 security forces they committed to release. They have released 800 prisoners. The main condition is that they should address their committment,” Dawa Khan Minapal was quoted by media on Saturday.

Some Afghan politicians, including Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said last week that the intra-Afghan negotiations will begin within the next few days.

France and Australia have opposed the release of six high-value Taliban prisoners who are accused of killing French and Aussie troops in Afghanistan.

President Ghani in a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday discussed the process of Taliban prisoners exchange and the release of Afghan government’s captives held by the Taliban, according to presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Sediqqi said that President Macron stressed that the Afghan government has fulfilled all its commitments for peace, and now onus is on the Taliban to live up to their commitments by announcing a ceasefire.

Critics said the peace negotiations should start without any further delay.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.