Kabul [Afghanistan], May 9 (Sputnik/ANI): The Afghan government has released 1,000 members of the Taliban movement and expects the group to respond by setting free government security forces personnel and speeding up the preparation of direct talks, the Afghan National Security Council said on Saturday.
"To fight #COVID19 and advance peace, the Gov't has released 1,000 Taliban prisoners, who have vowed to remain peaceful. It is now up to the Taliban to speed up the release of ANDSF, reduce violence, and prepare for direct talks with the Gov't. Delays are no longer justifiable," the council said on Twitter.
The prisoner exchange and launch of the intra-Afghan talks became possible after the Taliban and Washington reached a peace deal in Qatar in February. Under the agreement, the US and NATO troops are to be pulled out from the country within 14 months, and the intra-Afghan talks between the militant group and the government have been set to start on March 10. However, the talks have been delayed due to Afghanistan's electoral crisis and mutual disagreements over the release of prisoners.
The Taliban group is demanding that the Afghan authorities release 5,000 prisoners on the basis of the US-Taliban peace deal. The Afghan government, in its turn, agreed to gradually release 1,500 of the movement's members.
Under the deal, militants have agreed to release 1,000 government prisoners, but reportedly set free only 110. (Sputnik/ANI)