US, China, Russia, Pakistan Discuss Intra-Afghan Talks

U.S., China, Russia and Pakistan held a consultation and vowed to accelerate the peace talks in Afghanistan and do their utmost to facilitate it, reports TASS.

At the Wednesday video call, Russia, China and the U.S., were represented by special envoys and Pakistan, by the foreign minister’s first deputy.

The group said they would try to accelerate the exchange of prisoners between the Afghan government and the Taliban so that the peace talks may be able to start soon.

The Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asia Department Zamir Kabulov told TASS, “The exchange process is on. It is slower than we would like it to be, but it is continuing and now the need has emerged to hold a preliminary discussion of further steps.
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U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconstruction Zalmay Khalilzad had previously said they were in a good place with the talks and progress has been made.

One of the conditions of the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signed in Doha was that the Taliban had to release up to 1,000 prisoners while the Afghan government would have to release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners as a confidence-building gesture.

The Afghan government had not been party to that agreement but when Taliban announced the three-day Eid ceasefire, President Ashraf Ghani pledged to release 2,000 prisoners as a show of goodwill.

The Taliban has released a statement that the Afghan government had been misreporting the number of the group’s prisoners that had been released. The group claimed the government had released 2,284 prisoners while the Afghan National Security Council said they had released 2,700 prisoners.

The Afghan government had also said the Taliban prisoners were being released of off a list the group’s technical team had provided to Kabul.
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