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Afghan President Ghani announces final list of Taliban prisoners for release


Afghan President Ghani announces final list of Taliban prisoners for release

Taliban soldiers released from an Afghan prison in May
Photo: Rahmat Gul/AP

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will announce the final list of Taliban prisoners who will be released today.

Before crucial intra-Afghan negotiations can begin, both sides must release the remainder of the 5,000 Taliban and 1,000 Afghan prisoners as per February’s US-Taliban peace deal. So far, Ghani’s government has released 3,500 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban has released 700 Afghan captives. The Taliban has previously provided and received US approval on a list of Taliban prisoners to be released and has stated that any divergence from the list will not be accepted.

Recent controversy over whether Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill US and NATO soldiers has further complicated the deal, as the Taliban agreed to not attack American soldiers as part of the agreement. However, after the Taliban and Russia denied the claims, US President Donald Trump defied expectations and refrained from announcing any punitive responses.

The Taliban will likely be unsatisfied with Ghani’s announcement, leading to further delays regarding prisoner releases. However, despite increasing public outrage regarding the recent accusations and a lack of progress towards the start of negotiations, Trump will likely continue with military withdrawal ahead of the US elections in November.

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