On Tuesday the Taliban sent a three member technical team to Kabul to monitor the release of Taliban prisoners as part of a peace deal signed by the insurgents and the USA at the end of February.That deal calls for the Afghan government to release of 5000 Taliban prisoners and for the Taliban to free 1000 government personnel and Afghan troops they hold captive.
"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. It marked the first time a Taliban delegation has been in Kabul since the group was driven out by the US-led coalition in November 2001, AP said. "We have begun to see some work done on prisoner releases as well", Pompeo told reporters in Washington. "The prisoner release might go ahead in a few days if everything goes as planned".
Washington signed a deal with the Taliban in late February that promised the withdrawal of United States and foreign troops from Afghanistan by July next year, provided the Taliban start talks with Kabul and adhere to other guarantees.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government, which is not part of the agreement, was initially reluctant to free captured Taliban fighters, citing concerns they may return to the battlefield.
The Taliban has vowed to release 1,000 Afghan government troops and civilian workers it is holding.
The insurgent group, however, has announced it would not negotiate with the government-appointed delegation, saying it does not represent all Afghans and contradicts provisions of the agreement with the U.S.
But Abdullah on March 31 vowed that he would ensure their political dispute "does not overshadow peace efforts". "It has announced an unsuitable team and even declared it as a representative of the government", Mujahid said.
"We still have time to discuss the team's reporting mechanism and the source of its authorities", Abdullah said.
Under pressure from Washington, Ghani last week announced a 21-member "inclusive" team of negotiators for the much-awaited intra-Afghan talks, a move that received praise from US and other foreign partners of the war-ravaged country.
Pakistan has welcomed Afghanistan's announcement to form a negotiation team to hold intra-Afghan dialogue process, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the European Union said it has offered "full support" to Kabul's negotiating team, which it said constitutes "an important step towards starting intra-Afghan negotiations and solving the domestic political crisis".
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