The news agency quoted an Afghan source, saying the issue of prisoner releases was almost resolved. Additional prisoners would be freed and the direct talks would begin in the middle of July.

“The Taliban agreed because it was delaying the talks,” the source told Reuters. The government had also demanded a guarantee from the group that it was no longer holding any Afghan security force prisoners, the media agency added.

Meanwhile, a source close to the Taliban movement told the Reuters that the group was willing to move forward so long as most of the 5,000 prisoners demanded were released.

“I don’t think releasing or not releasing 200 or 300 prisoners will matter in the process, the Taliban can agree for (those) prisoners to remain in Afghan government custody,” the source said.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the office of the Taliban in Qatar, however, is yet to comment.

Under a peace accord signed between the United States and the Taliban, the intra-Afghan peace talks were scheduled to begin by March 10, but were delayed due to disputes over prisoner releases.


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