No legitimate reason to delay intra-Afghan talks: Khalilzad

Zalmay Khalilzad

US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad said there was “no legitimate reason” to delay the intra-Afghan negotiations that have been postponed over differences on the release of controversial Taliban prisoners by the Kabul government.

Khalilzad made the remarks in a tweet on Friday condemning the death of high-ranking education official, Abdul Baqi Amin, in an explosion in Kabul on Wednesday, reports TOLO News.

“The right tribute to Amin is for all sides to reduce violence and immediately start intra-Afghan negotiations,” Khalilzad said, adding that “there is no legitimate reason for delay”.

The special envoy said that Amin’s “death at the hands of spoilers who seek to delay and derail Afghan peace is tragic.”

Meanwhile, Najia Anwari, spokesperson for State Ministry for Peace Affairs, said there were ongoing consultations about the release of the controversial Taliban prisoners and the release of the Afghan government hostages held by the militants.

“Following this issue and after the release of the hostages of the Afghan security and defense forces kept with the Taliban, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will enter into dialogue with the Taliban group,” she said.

According to government officials, France and Australia have opposed the release of six Taliban inmates who are accused of killing citizens of those countries.

According to government data, out of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death; 105 accused of murder; 34 accused of kidnapping that led to murder; 51 accused of drug smuggling; 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies; six accused of other assorted crimes; and four are accused of unspecified crimes.

The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are expected to be held in Doha.

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