U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met Afghan leaders on Wednesday evening, ahead of Eid al-Adha ceasefire, to discuss the start of the direct talks.
The meeting was attended by President Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, former president Hamid Karzai and both vice presidents.
They discussed an extension of the ceasefire, the reduction in violence, start of direct talks, and also about the prisoner exchange, the Presidential Palace said.
Khalilzad also briefed Ghani on his recent talks with the Taliban in Doha.
Khalilzad also met with Abdullah separately, where they discussed the completion of the prisoner exchange, reduction in violence, intra-Afghan talks and ceasefire, a statement said.
The meetings were also attended by Ross Wilson, US Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan.
Sapidar Palace said the two sides welcomed the announcement of the ceasefire and expressed hope that the violence would subside before the start of the intra-Afghan talks.
No details were given as to when the talks would start.
The High Council of National Reconciliation said that Khalilzad’s trip is aimed at laying the groundwork for start of the intra-Afghan talks, sharing details of his recent trips and completing the implementation of the Doha Agreement.
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen tweeted that they will complete the release of 1000 Afghan government prisoners before Eid as “goodwill.”
He said the government “should also complete the process of releasing the 5,000 detainees, according to the Doha agreement and the list, in order to facilitate the start of intra-Afghan negotiations after Eid.”
The Afghan government had previously said that they would not be releasing 592 members of the Taliban who had been charged for moral and criminal offences. But, on Tuesday, Ghani said they would complete the prisoner swap soon.
The Taliban and the Afghan government settled for a ceasefire on Eid al-Fitr with both sides telling their soldiers to stop attacks for the next three days.