Pompeo, Taliban deputy leader discuss intra-Afghan talks

New York: pompeoGokhaleSD.jpg: India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, left, and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo meet in Washington on March 11, 2019, in Washington for high-level talks. (Photo: State Dept./IANS)

Kabul, Aug 4 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Talibans deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar discussed the much-awaited intra-Afghan talks and the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, a spokesman of the group said.

The talks took place on Monday via video conference.

“Both sides talked about the inception of intra-Afghan negotiations and the status quo emphasizing that release of the remaining prisoners are essential for commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations,” Khaame Press quoted spokesman Suhail Shaheen as saying.

“The Secretary of State also welcomed announcement of ceasefire by the Islamic Emirate on the eve of the current Eid.”

This comes as the both the Afghan government and Taliban have released hundreds of prisoners following the signing of peace deal between Washington and Taliban earlier this year.

Meanwhile, senior government official said on Monday that Afghan government is convening the consultative Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of Afghan elders and representatives, to find a consensus on the decision to release the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners who are accused of crimes including murder, drug trafficking and abduction, TOLO News reported.

The prisoners in question were named on a 5,000-member list given to the government by the Taliban.

The Afghan government has so far released 4,600 prisoners on this list but has refrained from releasing the remaining 400.

At least 3,200 people will attend the Jirga, according to presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

The prisoners, he said, are accused of murder and also for abduction, as well as other crimes.

The Afghan government has not made public any further details about the Jirga and its committees or its duration.

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