The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a video conference with the Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and discussed the start of the intra-Afghan talks and the ongoing situation, said spokesman Suhail Shaheen.
The two sides called the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners “important,” Shaheen said, adding that the US secretary of state also welcomed the Eid ceasefire.
Also, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Ashraf Ghani discussed the Afghan peace process.
Khan has expressed the hope that the current momentum of the Afghan Peace Process will be further built to implement the US-Taliban Peace Agreement in its entirety leading to Intra-Afghan negotiations at the earliest, Radio Pakistan reported.
Khan also said this while talking to President Ghani who telephoned him to extend congratulations on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.
Khan highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the peace process, strongly stressing that peace in Afghanistan is of paramount importance, the report said. Referring to the various institutional mechanisms between the two countries, he highlighted the importance of working together to further strengthen bilateral relations.
He said Pakistan looks forward to the next session of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity at the earliest.
Release of Prisoners
This comes as the Afghan government is convening the consultative Loya Jirga, the grand assembly of Afghan elders and representatives, to find a consensus on the decision to release 400 Taliban prisoners who are accused of crimes including murder, drug trafficking and abduction, a senior government official said on Monday.
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.
At least 3,200 people will attend the Jirga, according to presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, who held a press conference in Kabul on Monday.
The prisoners, he said, are accused of murder–in some cases up to 40 people– and also for abduction, as well as other crimes.
A Taliban spokesman in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, recently said that convening the Jirga to decide the release of the 400 prisoners meant the continuation of the war.
The Afghan government has not made public any further details about the Jirga and its committees or its duration.