Afghanistan: Pompeo calls for the release of Taliban prisoners

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on a council of elders scheduled for Friday in Afghanistan to release hundreds of Taliban prisoners, some of whom are accused of serious crimes, in order to advance the peace process.

“We recognize that the release of these prisoners is unpopular,” said Mike Pompeo in a statement, hours before the start of a loya jirga, a traditional assembly of elders in which some 3,200 dignitaries are expected to participate in Kabul.

“But this difficult act will lead to an important result, long awaited by the Afghans and the friends of Afghanistan: the reduction of violence and direct discussions leading to a peace agreement and the end of the war”, a- he added.

The Assembly of Elders is to decide the fate of some 400 Taliban detainees accused of serious crimes whose release the Afghan government has so far refused.

The February 29 agreement between the United States and the Taliban provides for the release by the Afghan government of 5,000 insurgents and that by the latter of 1,000 members of the security forces.

Afghan authorities have freed approximately 4,900 Taliban prisoners. The insurgents refuse to start negotiations until all 5,000 prisoners have been released.

The Taliban announced for their part that they have already completed their part of the exchange.

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