US reaffirms its commitment to Afghan prisoner exchange
KABUL: As the Pentagon played down the gravity of new Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday said he met with the insurgent group’s political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and his team for a “candid discussion” on next steps.
The recent attacks on Afghan forces had cast doubts on a four-day old peace deal between the insurgent group and the United States.
In a tweet, Khalilzad said his conversation with the Taliban chief was followed with a “constructive phone call” with US President Donald Trump.
“We all agreed the purpose of the US-Taliban agreement is to pave the path to a comprehensive peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
In a subsequent tweet, he said: “Increasing violence is a threat to the peace agreement and must be reduced immediately. In addition to discussing the need to decrease violence, we also talked about the exchange of prisoners.”
Khalilzad said that the US was committed to facilitating the prisoner exchange, which he said was agreed in both the US-Taliban Agreement and the US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration.
“We will support each side to release significant numbers,” he said.
“We must act on all fronts to clear the road of obstacles that slow our progress toward intra-Afghan negotiations. I once again call on all Afghans to rise to the occasion, put country first and not to lose this historic opportunity,” Khalilzad concluded. – AFP