The 400 Taliban prisoners who must be released to allow the start of peace negotiations with Kabul represent a “danger to the world,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani warned Thursday.
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Peace has a cost and with this liberation “we are paying the biggest installment, which means that peace will have consequences”, warned the Afghan president during a video conference organized by a Washington think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations.
The release of “hardened criminals” and drug traffickers is “likely to pose a danger to us, to (the United States) and to the world,” he added.
The government of Mr. Ghani is soon to begin direct peace negotiations with the Taliban insurgents, who previously demand the release of these 400 prisoners.
But some of them have been involved in deadly attacks that have killed Afghans and foreigners, including several French, and 44 of them are especially watched by the United States and other countries for their role in attacks targeting high profile targets.
Kabul has already released nearly 5,000 Taliban, but the Afghan authorities have so far refused to release the last 400 captives claimed by the insurgents. On Monday evening, Mr. Ghani signed a decree ordering their release within two days, but it still had not taken place by Thursday evening.
According to an Afghan government official, the prisoners will not be released until the Taliban frees Afghan soldiers they still hold. If they are released on Friday, Kabul will release the 400 insurgents, he told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Mr. Ghani stressed that the Taliban will have to make compromises in the peace talks.
“The Taliban must not seek dominance,” he said.
The Afghan president hinted that the negotiations could take a long time, alluding to the bilateral agreement signed in late February between the Taliban and the administration of President Donald Trump, eager to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible.
“This period must be productive, which we all pray for, otherwise it could turn into destruction,” concluded the Afghan president.