Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien in a telephonic conversation and exchanged views on the release of Haqqani leaders, Presidential Palace said in a statement on Tuesday.
During the talks, the US officials reiterated their support for President Ghani’s decision to release the three high-level Haqqani network leaders and expressed commitment to work closely with the Afghan government to respond to “any possible Taliban violence if the group refuses to respond in good faith”, according to the statement.
Last week, President Ghani had announced his decision for the release of three Haqqani network leaders including Annas Haqqani, the son of deceased Haqqani founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, Xinhua news agency reported.
Haqqani is the military wing of the Taliban outfit that is operational in Kabul and in the eastern region of the war-battered country.
Annas Haqqani, Hajji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid have been set free and arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, according to local media reports.
However, it is not known if the two lecturers of American University of Afghanistan who were kidnapped by the Taliban outfit from Kabul in the August of 2016 have been freed.
President Ghani also announced the release would be conditional and should pave the ground for a face on face talks between the government delegation and the Taliban to find a negotiated settlement for the country’s lingering crisis.
In June this year, US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, counter-terrorism assurances, a ceasefire and direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are the four key issues which have been under debate in the six rounds between US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban members.
The peace talks have been faced with many deadlocks over the past seven months since Khalilzad started his efforts on behalf of the US government. However, the last talks in May, Khalilzad said the talks are making “slow” but “steady” progress.
The Taliban’s willingness and refusals on attending meetings on peace has created doubts among critics and some lawmakers, who say the group does not seem “interested in peace”.
(With inputs from IANS)