Sediq Sediqqi, a presidential spokesperson said the Afghan government has by far released nearly 4,000 Taliban inmates so that the direct talks between Afghans begin soon.

“The Afghan government remains committed to peace [and ending the longest-running war of the country]. The government, thus, has released nearly 4,000 Taliban prisoners,” Mr. Sediqqi said. According to Mr. Sediqqi, the Taliban appeared to be the main obstacle to the peace process. “A continued violence of the armed group would jeopardize the Afghan peace process,” he said.

The Taliban movement, likewise, spoke about its full preparation for the start of the direct negotiations, saying talks would begin after a complete release of prisoners.

Referring to a Reuters’ report on intra-Afghan talks, Zabihullah Mujahed, a spokesman for the armed group said negotiating an agreement between the group and the Afghan government would begin as soon as a condition of the U.S.-Taliban peace pact, which is a complete release of prisoners, is fulfilled.

It is more likely that talks would begin at the earliest as soon as the Taliban outfit and the Afghan government fulfill the process of prisoner exchange, said Mujahed, continuing that “a delay in the process of prisoner releases would lead to a hold-over in the talks.”

Afghan political affairs experts, however, voiced optimism over the report, saying an atmosphere of genuine confidence has been created between the two sides.

Speaking to TKG, Feda Mohammad Nazari, a political affairs analyst, said that reaching a ceasefire, coinciding with the start of direct talks would have positive results.

A continued violence would harm the atmosphere of trust confidence built for the intra-Afghan negotiations, he further added.

“I think, declaring a ceasefire coinciding the intra-Afghan peace talks would fulfill our dreams, and we would reach a lasting peace. If a ceasefire wasn’t agreed to be declared,… the atmosphere of trust can be shattered,” Mr. Nazari said.

The Afghan State Ministry for Peace Affairs could not be reached for comment but it had earlier said an intra-Afghan dialogue would begin after a reduction in hostilities and as soon as the prisoner swap process is fulfilled.


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