Taliban ready for talks with Afghan government

(Kabul) The Taliban said they were ready on Thursday for talks with the Afghan government next month, after the Eid al-Adha holiday, if the prisoner exchange provided for in the US-Taliban agreement Doha is complete.

France Media Agency

We are “ready to begin inter-Afghan negotiations after Eid, provided the process of releasing the prisoners is completed,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.

He added that the Taliban were prepared to release members of the Afghan security forces they are detaining, on condition that Kabul does the same with all Taliban prisoners “according to the list already handed” to the authorities.

The government in Kabul did not immediately react.

The United States and the Taliban signed a historic agreement in Doha at the end of February, paving the way for a total withdrawal of American troops after 13 years of war, as well as unprecedented inter-Afghan peace negotiations.

Last week, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said Qatar’s offer to host the first round of these talks was “a consensus”.

These talks were originally scheduled to start on 10 March, but have been repeatedly delayed due to continued fighting and delay of an exchange of prisoners.

President Ashraf Ghani has promised to release a total of 5000 Taliban prisoners against a thousand members of the Afghan security forces held by the insurgents, as stipulated in the agreement of Doha, not ratified by Kabul.

So far, the Afghan authorities have said they have released nearly 4400 Taliban prisoners, and the insurgents, 864 detainees of Afghan forces.

While the Taliban have repeatedly declared themselves “committed” to respecting the terms of this text, they regularly blame the failure of the talks on the Afghan government, accused of not releasing quickly enough.