I.Afghanistan is making progress towards peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban rebels. Representatives of both sides wanted to meet in the coming days for preliminary talks, the spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council, Javid Faisal, told the German Press Agency on Thursday. This was agreed at a video conference on Wednesday evening – the second within a few days. A compromise on controversial prisoner exchanges was also found there, the National Security Council said. Afghan President Aschraf Ghani meanwhile announced on Thursday a 20-person delegation to lead negotiations with the Taliban on the future of Afghanistan.
The exchange of prisoners and the subsequent start of intra-Afghan peace negotiations are provided for in the agreement signed by the United States and the Taliban on February 29, which is intended to help end the country’s war since 2001. So far, however, none of the steps have been taken since the government in Kabul rejected parts of the agreement in which it was not involved.
Now, according to both sides, it has been agreed that the gradual release of prisoners should take place from March 31. The National Security Council said it would begin the release of a hundred Taliban prisoners “for humanitarian reasons” after the Taliban had given assurances that the prisoners would not go back to fighting. In return, the Taliban would release prisoners. One of her spokesmen wrote on Twitter that a detachment “to identify, confirm and release prisoners according to the list already presented” was to be sent to the prison in Bagram north of Kabul.
Government leader Abdullah Abdullah, who is competing with Ghani, said on Thursday that he was ready to hold talks to end the country’s political crisis. The American government had recently put considerable pressure on Ghani and Abdullah to reach agreement.