Kabul, March 26 (IANS) Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has released a list of 20 representatives to negotiate with the Taliban, an important step towards the much-awaited intra-Afghan talks, a media report said.
The list was released on Wednesday night, the TOLO News report said.
The development came a day after teams from the Taliban, the Red Cross, the US, Qatar and the Afghan government today on Tuesday a five-way video conference for four hours and discussed “the peace process and the release of prisoners”.
The US and the Taliban inked a peace deal on February 29 after rounds of marathon talks to end America’s longest war in its history, paving the way for the withdrawal of thousands of US troops and facilitating intra-Afghan dialogues to find a negotiated settlement to Afghanistan’s lingering crisis.
Under the agreement, the US was to secure the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners within 10 days after signing the peace deal to facilitate direct talks between the militant group and the Afghan government.
In return for the prisoners’ release, the Taliban agreed to set free 1,000 Afghan security personnel.
However, the Afghan government refused to release the Taliban detainees, demanding the Taliban group observe the ceasefire and initiate talks with the government ahead of the detainees’ release, but the Taliban rejected the condition.