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Taliban says prisoner release by Afghan government will begin on March 31

25 Mar 2020 1TV News

The Taliban said on Wednesday a release of prisoners by the Afghan government would begin on March 31.

It was agreed during a video conference involving the Taliban, Afghan government, the United States, Qatar and Red Cross, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.

He said that the Taliban will send a technical team to Bagram prison to verify the released prisoners.

The Afghan government is expected to release 5,000 prisoners while the Taliban would free 1,000 under the group's deal with the US.

According to the deal, the releases should have happened by March 10 when intra-Afghan talks were expected to begin.

However, the process was delayed due to President Ghani's reluctance.

Afghanistan's National Security Council confirmed that the Peace Initial Contact Group met virtually with the Taliban and discussed initial technical steps for prisoner release.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, Qatari Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution Mutlaq al-Qahtani, and ICRC head of delegation Juan Pedro Schaerer also attended the meeting.

It said that subject to further discussions, and pursuant to President Ghani’s decree, 100 prisoners will be freed on humanitarian grounds – including health, age and vulnerability to coronavirus - by March 31 after guarantees by Taliban and the prisoners that they will not re-enter the fight.

To carry out these further discussions, a Taliban team will meet with the government face-to-face in Afghanistan in the coming days, NSC said.

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