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Pompeo, Taliban deputy leader discuss Afghan peace process

04 Aug 2020 1TV News

US Secretary Mike Pompeo held virtual meeting on Monday with Mullah Baradar Akhund, the Taliban's deputy leader and head of their political office in Qatar, to discuss the state of the Afghan peace process, the militant group said.

During the meeting, the sides talked about the inception of the intra-Afghan negotiations and emphasized that release of the remaining prisoners are essential for commencement of talks, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban’s political office, said on Twitter.

Pompeo welcomed the announcement of ceasefire over Eid, he said.

The release of the Taliban prisoners has become a major hurdle to the convening of intra-Afghan peace talks, which were to have started by March 10 under the US-Taliban deal signed in February.

The deal called for Kabul to free up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for the release by Taliban of up to 1,000 government detainees before the talks.

The Taliban has released around 1,000 detainees. The Afghan government has freed around 4,600 Taliban prisoners.

Afghan government, however, is resisting freeing the remaining 400 prisoners on the Taliban list, saying they were involved in serious crimes.

President Ashraf Ghani has called Loya Jirga, or grand assembly of tribal elders from across the country, to consult on whether to free those remaining on the list. The assembly is expected to be held on coming Friday.

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