Intra-Afghan talks to be scheduled after prisoners swap

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Kabul, June 21 (IANS) The venue and time of the start of intra-Afghan talks will be finalized after the completion of the prisoners swap between the Kabul government and the Taliban, the State Ministry on Peace Affairs said.

“With the completion of the prisoners swap between the two sides and a halt in the violence, arrangements will be made for the venue and date of intra-Afghan talks,” TOLO News quoted Najia Anwari, a spokeswoman for the Ministry, as saying on Saturday.

But, a former senior Taliban leader in Kabul, Jalaluddin Shinwari, has said that the intra-Afghan talks had been delayed due to the emergence of mistrust between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

“There has been mistrust between the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and (the Talban) and this has resulted in the suspension of intra-Afghan talks during the current week,” said Shinwari.

While a reduction in violence by the Taliban is considered a precursor of a swift start of the intra-Afghan talks, there are widespread reports of deadly battles between the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) and the Taliban outfits in various regions across the nation.

In a latest sign of escalating violence, two commanders in the Afghan security forces were killed in a Taliban attack on Friday night in Helmand province amid an unannounced truce between the two sides and while peace efforts by the Afghan government and its allies are underway, TOLO News reported.

Reports say that nine Taliban fighters have also been killed during the firefights with ANDSF in Helmand and Logar provinces.

In another incident, three Afghan security force members were killed as a result of a roadside mine in Kohsan district of Herat on Friday night.

On Friday, Afghan forces displayed dozens of weapons and motorcycles they seized from the Taliban in Paktia province after the Taliban launched a coordinated attack on Afghan forces in Sari-roza district of the province.

Under the US-Taliban peace agreement that was signed between the sides in Doha on February 29, the Taliban demanded the release of 5,000 of its detainees in the Afghan government jails as part of efforts for the intra-Afghan talks.

–IANS
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