Afghan govt to release 3rd group of Taliban prisoners

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    Kabul, April 12 (IANS) The Afghan government is preparing to release the third group of 100 Taliban prisoners, the National Security Council spokesman Jawed Faisal said, but without provide details on when it would taken place.

    The remarks by Faisal on Saturday comes after the government started the process on April 8 by releasing the first batch of 100 prisoners, followed by another 100 inmates the following day, reports TOLO News.
    The government has vowed to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners to move the peace process forward.
    “We are sparing no effort within the framework of the law to encourage the Taliban to begin negotiations. Both sides should make efforts to move the process forward,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for the State Ministry for Peace Affairs.
    Based on the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in Doha on February 29, 5,000 inmates of the group should be released by the Afghan government, and 1,000 prioners held by the militant group, to begin the intra-Afghan negotiations.
    On Friday, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said “unidentified” prisoners were released by the Afghan government while their delegation had already left Kabul after meetings with government team that ended with no result.
    The Presidential Palace recently said the High Council of Peace and Reconciliation will be established for the leadership of the peace process.
    The Afghan government says efforts are underway to form the council.
    “The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has taken basic steps for achieving peace. Now the Taliban should act on their promises,” TOLO News quoted Latif Mahmoud, a presidential spokesman, as saying.
    On Friday evening, Gen. Austin S. Miller, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, met the Taliban leadership in Doha to discuss the peace process.
    Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesman for the US forces in Afghanistan, said the meeting was “part of the military channel established in the (US-Taliban) agreement”, and “the meeting was about the need to reduce the violence”.
    “Gen. Miller has gone to Doha to assure the leaders of the Taliban political office that the US is committed to the (US-Taliban) agreement and that no violation will happen in the future,” said Jalaluddin Shinwari, a former Taliban member.