Taliban reject Afghan proposal to free 1,500 prisoners ahead of negotiations

Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban in Qatar, attends the Intra Afghan Dialogue talks in the Qatari capital Doha on July 7, 2019. (AFP)

The Taliban on Wednesday rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to release 1,500 insurgent prisoners ahead of peace talks, saying it wanted 5,000 captives freed before opening negotiations.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP the prisoners should be released “as a trust-building measure” before intra-Afghan talks.

Any changes amounted to a violation of the deal struck between the insurgents and Washington in Doha last month, he added.

Read more: Afghanistan’s President Ghani signs decree to release Taliban prisoners

Although Kabul was not a signatory to the deal, it stated that up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners held by Afghan authorities would be released, prompting an angry reaction from Ghani.

Shaheen’s announcement came hours after Ghani issued a decree saying the government would release 1,500 captives starting Saturday – but only if the insurgents cut violence.

Another 3,500 prisoners would be released after talks started, a spokesman said on Twitter.

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Last Update: 11:06 KSA 14:06 - GMT 11:06
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