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Afghan President Ghani to sign order to release Taliban prisoners, peace talks expected ‘within a week’

Afghan President Ghani to sign order to release Taliban prisoners, peace talks expected ‘within a week’

Peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to start in Qatar within a week, once the final batch of Taliban prisoners is released, the US special envoy and sources in Kabul said on Monday.

The government accepted the advice of a loya jirga, a grand assembly of elders, on Sunday to release 400 “hardcore” Taliban prisoners. The move paves the way for talks aimed at ending a war that has ground on since US-backed Afghan forces ousted a Taliban government in late 2001.

“We are ready to sit for talks within a week from when we see our prisoners released. We are ready,” Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told Reuters on Monday.

President Ashraf Ghani would likely sign the decree to release the prisoners on Monday, according to a government source. “The original plan is to travel to Doha on Wednesday and the talks will begin on Sunday,” the source added.