Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 15th, 2021

Taliban Rejects Afghan Govt Offer to Free 1,500 Prisoners Before Talks

Taliban Rejects  Afghan Govt Offer to Free 1,500 Prisoners Before Talks

KABUL - After a series of delays, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree early Wednesday promising the release of 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started.
Taliban rejected the offer, saying all 5,000 prisoners must be freed for such talks to begin.
A recent peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban called for the release of up to 5,000 prisoners ahead of the much sought-after negotiations.
But President Ghani has declined to release all 5,000 in one go. Instead, he has ordered the release of an initial 1,500, with the other 3,500 to be set free in parallel with progress in the peace talks.
Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP news agency that "5,000 prisoners should be released as a trust-building measure, and that this should be before the intra-Afghan talks".
Any changes amounted to "a violation" of the deal struck between the group and Washington in Doha last month, he added.
Associated Press news agency said it saw a letter that Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, the head of the Taliban's Prisoners Commission, sent to the prisoners, their families, and Taliban leaders promising there would be no intra-Afghan talks until all the prisoners are released.
The Pashto-language letter was sent last weekend. It said the Taliban would verify that each prisoner released is among those on the list given to an American delegation.
However, the presidential decree went on to say the first round of 1,500 prisoners will be selected based on age, health and the length of their sentences already served. The released prisoners, who will be biometrically identified, will also have to give a written guarantee that they will not return to the battlefield. (TRT)