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Afghanistan to begin prisoner exchange with Taliban amid lockdown – officials

Afghanistan to begin prisoner exchange with Taliban amid lockdown – officials

The Afghan government will release some Taliban prisoners this week as part of a confidence building measure, officials said on Wednesday. The move is crucial for the success of the peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban to end nearly two decades of war.

A three-member Taliban team arrived in Kabul on Tuesday to begin a prisoner exchange process and met with Afghan officials despite a nationwide lockdown implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo termed the developments as “good news.” The statement came a week after he had visited both government leaders in Kabul and Taliban representatives in the Qatari capital Doha, where the Afghan militants have an office, to urge them to move forward with the peace process.

A Taliban spokesman said on Wednesday that at least 100 captured fighters would be freed soon, the first step in the ultimate exchange of 6,000 prisoners held by the Afghan government and the insurgent group, Reuters reported.