By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday said he sees “no legitimate reason” to delay the intra-Afghan negotiations that are expected in near future but have been postponed over differences on the release of high-value Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government.
On August 9, nearly 3,400 Afghan delegates at a three-day Loya Jirga, the grand council, approved the release of 400 high-value prisoners of the Taliban whose release was the main hurdle for the intra-Afghan negotiations.
Two days after that, the government released 80 of the prisoners, but conditioned the release of the remaining to the release of at least 20 Afghan commandos in Taliban custody, according to officials.
Khalilzad made the remarks in a tweet on the death of a high-ranking education official, Abdul Baqi Amin, who was killed in an explosion in Kabul on Wednesday. “The right tribute to Dr Amin is for all sides to reduce violence and immediately start intra-Afghan negotiations,” Khalilzad said, adding that “there is no legitimate reason for delay.”
Khalilzad said Amin’s “death at the hands of spoilers who seek to delay, and derail Afghan peace is tragic.”
Meanwhile, Najia Anwari, spokesperson for State Ministry for Peace Affairs told media the other day that there are consultations about the release of the controversial Taliban prisoners and the release of the Afghan government hostages held by the Taliban.
“Following this issue (completion of prisoner swap) and after the release of the hostages of the Afghan security and defense forces kept with the Taliban, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will enter into dialogue with the Taliban group,” she said.
According to government officials, France and Australia countries are opposing the release of six of the inmates who are accused of killing citizens of those countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also said that talks are underway with Australian and French authorities about the release of six Taliban prisoners.