Afghan Envoy Khalilzad to Meet With Taliban Representatives After ‘Challenges’ With Peace Deal

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation will meet with Taliban representatives Monday, nearly a week after the militant group called off peace talks with the Afghan government after disputes over an expected prisoner swap.

Zalmay Khalilzad, who has led the U.S. negotiations, will meet with the representatives in Doha, Qatar, the US State Department announced Monday.

He will “discuss current challenges in implementing the US-Taliban Agreement,” the department said in a statement.

The meeting comes just one day after the Taliban announced it will be releasing 20 Afghan government prisoners, marking the first phase of its commitment under a landmark peace agreement with the U.S. The Afghan government last week released its first 100 Taliban prisoners.

Up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners were expected to be released under the peace deal with the U.S., but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani refused to release the prisoners claiming he had not agreed to such a deal. He instead offered to conditionally release 1,500 prisoners.

The Feb. 29 U.S.-Taliban agreement called for the militant group and the Kabul government to start direct talks and a prisoner release, which had been slated for March 31 and have since stalled.

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