Conflicts & War

Afghan government delays Taliban prisoner release again

Kabul, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- The government of Afghanistan on Monday said its plans to release Taliban prisoners had been delayed once again.

The release of the first group of Taliban prisoners was scheduled for Tuesday, as agreed between the government and the insurgents during talks on Mar.25.

“There is no prisoner release happening tomorrow (Tuesday),” National Security Council spokesperson Javid Faisal tweeted.

The two sides had on Mar. 25 agreed through a video conference to begin the long-awaited process of swapping prisoners on Mar. 31.

The Taliban agreed to send a delegation to the country’s Bagram jail to verify and identify their prisoners as per a list they had given to the government.

A second video conference took place on Sunday during which the Taliban said that they would send their delegation to the jail with the help of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), in order to facilitate the prisoner release.

Although no more details were available immediately, Faisal said the release was not going to take place on schedule as the Taliban had failed to send their delegation so far.

“The Taliban agreed in the video conference yesterday to send a team to Kabul to hold further technical discussion with the government,” Faisal said.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told EFE that it would “be clear later today, whether we will send the delegation to Bagram today or not”.

The prisoner release process was originally slated to be held before Mar. 10 as per the US-Taliban agreement, signed on Feb.29.

But it was delayed due to differences over procedures to be followed and pending security guarantees by the insurgents that these persons won’t return to battlefields after being released from jail.

As per the US-Taliban deal, 5,000 insurgents and 1,000 government prisoners are set to be released in the first phase.

The insurgents and the government have remained deadlocked over the swapping of prisoners, which was a part of the US-Taliban accord and considered crucial for the commencement of the intra-Afghan talks.

The US on Feb. 29 reached an agreement with the Taliban for a roadmap to pull out American troops from the war-ravaged country.

The plan is set to start with the withdrawal of 8,600 soldiers within 135 days from the date of the signing of the deal. Currently, some 14,000 US troops remain deployed in the country. EFE-EPA


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