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Afghan govt, Taliban continue prisoner swap talks

The agreement called for the Taliban to release 1,000 detained Afghan security force members.

IANS | Kabul |

Representatives of the Afghan government and a five-member Taliban technical delegation continued discussions over the issue of prisoners’ release in an effort to jump-start a peace process for the country, it was reported.

The Afghan government has said that the main purpose of the release of Taliban prisoners is to persuade the militant grouo to agree to a ceasefire in order to continue and to cement solid steps for the intra-Afghan talks, reports TOLO News.

The five-member delegation from the Taliban arrived in Kabul on Thursday.

Sources close to the Taliban have said that one of the core purposes of the arrival of the delegation in Kabul was to finalize the release of 3,500 prisoners.

On Thursday, sources within the Afghan government and the Taliban said an “unannounced ceasefire” has been in place since May 27 and will remain in effect for the next several days, but reports indicate that the three clashes occurred in Zabul, Farah and Parwan.

An Eid ceasefire was announced by the Taliban and reciprocated by the Afghan government, and, according to figures provided by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, civilian casualties dropped by 80 per cent.

President Ashraf Ghani, in response to the Taliban’s announcement of the ceasefire, pledged to release 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture to help persuade the group to come to the peace talks.

The Taliban continues to demand the release of their 5,000 inmates jailed by the Afghan government, which was mentioned in the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in Doha on February 29, TOLO News reported.

The agreement called for the Taliban to release 1,000 detained Afghan security force members.

Under the US-Taliban peace agreement, which was signed between the two sides in Doha in February, the Taliban demanded the release of its 5,000 fighters from Afghan government prisons.