Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Thursday that an early launch of intra-Afghan negotiations is in the interest of both the people of Afghanistan and the country’s foreign partners.
“We welcome the release of all 1,000 prisoners, which are Afghan army and police, by the Taliban in accordance with the agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020,” Maria Zakharova said.
“We also look forward to the early implementation of President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani’s decision to release the remaining imprisoned militants, which was adopted following the Consultative Loya Jirga.”
This comes a day after, the Afghan government announced that it has suspended the controversial release process of 320 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners.
Sediq Sediqqi, the Presidential spokesman, said that the government will not release the remaining Taliban prisoners unless the group frees 22 Afghan security force members they are holding captive.
Last Monday’s decree, signed by President Ashraf Ghani, was the result of a Loya Jirga, or grand council, which voted in favor of the insurgents’ release following two days of consultations.
The process has however raised concerns and Australia and France have also publicly called on the government to not release six prisoners who are guilty of having killed their nationals.
Meanwhile, Russia said it hoped that “these issues will not become new obstacles to the launch of peaceful dialogue and will be resolved in the near future.”
“We are confident that the early start of intra-Afghan talks should benefit the interests of both the people of Afghanistan and that country’s international partners,” Maria Zakharova added.
Moreover, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said Friday that there is no legitimate reason to delay the intra-Afghan talks.
He called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to immediately start intra-Afghan negotiations.
Some reliable sources from the Afghan government, however, added that the process would be suspended until the United States has reached an agreement over six of the Taliban prisoners involved in insider attacks, the so-called green-on-blue attacks, with Australia and France.