Afghanistan's peace agreement comes to the first inconvenience for the release of prisoners

KABUL: The president of Afghanistan said on Sunday that he will not release thousands of Taliban prisoners before talks to share the power of all Afghans scheduled for next week, in public disagreement with a schedule for an early release of prisoners established only one day before in an American Taliban peace agreement.

President Ashraf Ghani's comments pointed to the first problem in the implementation of the fragile agreement, which aims to end America The longest war after more than 18 years and make rival Afghan factions agree on the future of their country.

Still, the United States has said that a planned withdrawal of US troops over the next 14 months is related to the Taliban’s anti-terrorist performance, not to progress in intra-Afghan talks.

Washington's Peace Envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as America 's first ambassador to Afghanistan after the 2001 US invasion, spent the past 17 months running on-again, off-again talks with the Taliban to hammer out the agreement.

The agreement between the United States and the Taliban signed on Saturday in central Qatar provides for the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government before talks between Afghan factions that will begin on March 10 in the Norwegian capital of Oslo . The Taliban would release up to 1,000 prisoners.

Ghani told a press conference in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday that this was not a promise U.S could do. He said that the release of any prisoner was a decision made by his government and that he was not ready to release the prisoners before the negotiations began.

"The request has been made by the U.S for the release of prisoners and it can be part of the negotiations but it cannot be a precondition," Ghani said.

The US-Taliban deal is seen as a historic opportunity to extricate the U.S from Afghanistan, a nation convulsed by conflict since the Soviet invasion in December 1979. Yet it could also unravel quickly, particularly if the Taliban fail to deliver on a promise that no terror attacks would be launched from Afghan soil.

The intra-Afghan talks between squabbling political factions and rival Taliban in Afghanistan are even more intricate - even if a potential failure might not slow the withdrawal of America n forces.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Qatar's Foreign Minister, Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said he considered an exchange of prisoners an important confidence building measure.

Everything is interconnected, he said Sunday about the 14-month term of the agreement.

The exchange of prisoners will be one of the first confidence-building measures, so it will continue to be a very critical step that we must push forward, he added.

US officials, traveling with Secretary of State on his return to America, noted that the agreement stipulates up to 5,000 prisoners would be released, without referring specifically to Ghani's statements.

President Donald Trump He told reporters at the White House on Saturday that he will meet personally with the Taliban leaders in the not too distant future, and described the group as tired of the war.

No dijo dónde ni por qué planea reunirse con los líderes talibanes. Dijo que cree que se toman en serio el acuerdo que firmaron, pero advirtió que si falla, U.S podría reiniciar el combate.

We believe that in the end we will succeed, he said, referring to peace talks with all Afghans and a final exit from the United States.

But he also warned: If bad things happen, we will return with military firepower.

However, many Afghans have welcomed the possibility of peace.

Afghans in eastern Nangarhar posted photos of dozens of men dancing in the street to celebrate the signing. In the eastern province, a Taliban fortress, the night sky was lit with red tracer bullets fired by the residents they celebrated.

Footballers in southern Helmand province, also a Taliban stronghold that has witnessed strong violence, began a three-day soccer tournament to celebrate the signing.

comments