Spokesman of the Political Office of the Taliban, Suhail Shaheen, has said that senior leaders of his movement will hold a meeting with officials from the Afghan government on March 25 via videoconference.
The two sides, he said, would discuss the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in government jails in return for the release of 1,000 government hostages in Taliban’s custody.
He said Qatar, the United States and the International Committee of the Red Cross would be represented in the meeting.
As a move, he wrote on Twitter, this would pave the way for the implementation of the truce signed by the Taliban and the United States earlier.
The exchange of prisoners between the Taliban and the Afghan government is an important part of the truce between the Taliban and the United States. The two sides held their first meeting via videoconference on March 23 under mediation from the United States and Qatar.
United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, paid a secret visit to Afghanistan on the same day, during which he held a meeting with Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, on means of easing the implementation of the truce.
On March 24, Pompeo said his country would be ready to reduce economic aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion.
He added that conflicts between Ghani and a former presidential candidate had opened the door for instability in Afghanistan.
He blamed this conflict for Washington’s decision to reduce economic aid to Afghanistan.
Pompeo even said that his country would reconsider all grants offered Afghanistan as well as agreements it signed previously with the country’s government.
Meeting of necessity
Observers believe that the meeting declared by Shahin is a direct result of the aforementioned American threats.
The Afghan government, they said, is finally succumbing to American pressures for sitting with the Taliban and starting negotiations with it.
The United States wants to pull out of Afghanistan, but in the presence of a political cover, Ali Bakr, a researcher at Egyptian think tank Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told The Reference.