Vietnam backs comprehensive peace process in Afghanistan

Vietnam backs comprehensive peace process in Afghanistan”

Afghanistan has freed almost 200 Taliban prisoners to spur long-delayed peace talks, as a team of negotiators readies to fly this week to Qatar's capital, Afghan officials said on Wednesday.

At least seven out of the 400 prisoners will reportedly remain in custody.

Since March, the Afghan government had released some 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban had freed 1,000 Afghan soldiers or government staff.

The United States signed a bilateral deal on February 29 with the Taliban, in which Washington agreed to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and end nearly 20 years of war following the al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001.

They have acknowledged, however, that a group of seven Taliban prisoners would be transferred to Doha, where they would be kept under supervision of the host government.

Kabul had resisted the release of the final Taliban inmates who President Ashraf Ghani said were "a danger to the world". Some western governments, including France and Australia, also objected to the release.

Paris and Canberra made fights over the arrival of the fear mongers due to their connections to the homicides of French and Australian regular folks and troops in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government was reluctant to release any of the 400, which it says have been involved in some of the worst crimes including major attacks such as the 2017 truck bombing near the Germany Embassy in Kabul, until the Taliban released 24 Afghan special forces members and pilots first.

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It was not immediately clear if those insurgents were among the prisoners freed since Monday.

Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, the chief of the government-mandated negotiation team, said in a tweet that his group would "soon" start peace talks.

It is not known if those militants have been released.

Under the deal, the USA committed to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan by July 2021.

A government source said they could begin as soon as Saturday, but a second source subsequently said that initial plans for the government delegation to fly to Doha on Thursday had been postponed.

"Diplomatic efforts are ongoing", he said in a tweet, referring to the final few prisoners who worldwide partners objected to releasing.

There are unconfirmed reports that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, as well as the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, will attend the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha.

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