Afghan Govt Agrees to Release Taliban Prisoners to Push Peace Talks

Will release Taliban's new list of 592 detainees

Afghanistan’s National Security Council has made a deal with the Taliban to move beyond a dispute over prisoner releases, and has agreed to release another 592 detainees, the number they’d previously refused to release.

The 592 were the last on the list of thousands of detainees, all meant to be released before the peace talks. After the government refused this last batch, there was talking with the Taliban, and a deal that the Taliban would give them a new list of 592 people, and get those released.

Afghan officials say once that’s done, direct intra-Afghan peace talks should begin more or less immediately. There is no sign on a schedule for that, but the Taliban has long conditioned talks on getting prisoners releases, so that progress is likely to come soon.

Intra-Afghan talks were meant to happen months ago, but were delayed by the prisoner releases, which the Taliban were promised by the US but which the Afghan government had not, at the time, signed off on.

The talks likely need to happen soon. The goal was to get a working deal between the two powers before the US leaves Afghanistan, but with drawdowns happening ahead of schedule, time is of the essence. The US is likely to have only a few thousand troops left in Afghanistan by November, allowing the US to wrap up the pullout soon thereafter.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.