Washington/UNI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday held discussions with the Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and discussed the possibility of starting the intra-Afghan talks.
The two sides agreed that the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners is a "very important," step to start the peace talks, adding that the US secretary of state also welcomed the Eid ceasefire called by the Taliban.
The discussions come at a time when the Afghan government is convening the Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of Afghan elders and representatives, to build a consensus on the decision to release 400 Taliban prisoners who they accuse of being involved in serious crimes like murder, drug trafficking and abduction.
The prisoners in question were named on a 5,000-member list given to the government by the Taliban. The Afghan government has so far released 4,600 prisoners on this list but has refrained from releasing the remaining 400. President Ghani on Friday said he does not have the constitutional authority to release the 400 prisoners and, therefore, will convene a Loya Jirga to decide on the inmates.
A Taliban spokesman in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, recently warned that convening the Jirga to decide the release of the 400 prisoners meant continuation of the war.
The Afghan government has not made public any further details about the Jirga and its committees or its duration.