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  • The Taliban had previously refused to speak to the Afghan government until all prisoners were released.

    The Taliban had previously refused to speak to the Afghan government until all prisoners were released. | Photo: EFE

Published 31 March 2020

"In this regard, they will do a kind of deal with the opposite side (Afghan government)," the Taliban said, adding that "their practical work would start in the coming days."

A three-member Taliban delegation arrived in Kabul Tuesday to begin a prisoner exchange process, which will likely kick-start intra-Afghan talks in order to end the country's 18-year war.

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"Our three-member technical team will help the process of prisoners' release by identification of the prisoners, (and) their transportation," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.

The Taliban had previously refused to speak to the Afghan government until all prisoners were released.

This comes as the recently sworn-in President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree ordering the release of 1,500 Taliban insurgents, which presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said was the first of two phases of releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners in order to secure the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations. 

The other 3,500 are to be freed after negotiations begin, on the condition that there is a tangible reduction in violence, according to the four-article pardon decree.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rejected the proposal from Ghani to release prisoners in phases arguing that the "conditional release" of the Taliban prisoners is against the accord signed with the U.S.

"In this regard, they will do a kind of deal with the opposite side (Afghan government)," Mujahid said, adding that "their practical work would start in the coming days."

The talks also received a boost after a government-named negotiating team was endorsed by Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's main political rival.

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