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Taliban Demands Release of 82 Prisoners in Exchange for Two Professors

(Last Updated On: October 31, 2019)

The Taliban militant group has given a list of 82 prisoners – to be exchanged with two foreign university professors – to the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation.

Wahid Muzhda, a pro-Taliban political analyst on Thursday told Ariana News that the list includes key members of the group including designated governors, war commanders, and two key members of the Haqqani Network, Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid, who are kept in Bagram, Pul-e-Charkhi and Afghan Intelligence agency prisons.

Kevin King and Timothy Weeks from Australia were teaching at Kabul’s American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) before gunmen took them hostage near the campus in August 2016.

Meanwhile, government sources said the U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has told Afghan leaders that releasing of these inmates will facilitate the resumption of Afghan peace process including the intra-Afghan talks.

Recently, the Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib said Khalilzad discussed the release of two professors during his latest visit to Kabul.

Mohib further explained President Ashraf Ghani’s new plan for peace that requires Taliban to announce at least a month of ceasefire before the start of any negotiations.

For the past couple of years, the government was ready for negotiations with the Taliban without any pre-condition and that has changed now, he added.

Here in Kabul, Afghan officials are holding meetings with foreign diplomats on daily basis, discussing the peace process.

On Wednesday, President Ghani’s National Security Advisor met with the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Aleksandr Mantytsky in Kabul where they discussed the regional consensus for peace.

In addition, in a video message sent to media outlets, Spokesman of the National Security Council Kabir Haqmal re-emphasized on the government’s Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

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