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US, Taliban officials meet in Qatar to discuss Afghan prisoner release dispute – report

US, Taliban officials meet in Qatar to discuss Afghan prisoner release dispute – report

The chief US negotiator on Afghanistan and the top US commander in that country held talks with Taliban officials in Doha on a prisoner release dispute that helped stall US-led peace-making efforts, according to a Taliban spokesman.

The discussions, held on Monday despite the global coronavirus pandemic, followed some movement on prisoner releases, with the government in Kabul freeing some 300 insurgent detainees and the Taliban releasing a first batch of government prisoners. The dispute over the size and pace of the releases, an increase in Taliban violence and other issues have stalled efforts to end the US’s longest war.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban office in Doha, tweeted that US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad and US Army General Scott Miller met with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the insurgent movement and its chief negotiator. They discussed the “complete implementation” of a February 29 US-Taliban deal for a phased US troop withdrawal “as well as delay in the release of prisoners,” Shaheen said.

The Taliban last week accused the US of violating the accord by supporting Afghan security operations in some parts of the country, and warned that such support could jeopardize the deal. It was the second time Miller, commander of a US-led international force, met the Taliban officials since Friday, Reuters said.