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Taliban prisoner exchange delayed

A prisoner exchange in advance of peace negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government have been delayed due to disagreements over the number of detainees to be freed and guarantees that they will not return to the battlefield.

Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, agreed to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners on Saturday with further releases to follow as conditions were met. In total 5,000 prisoners were set to be released so that peace negotiations could occur and an end to the 18-year conflict could come about.

Read more here: Afghanistan government and Taliban engage in prisoner exchange

The Taliban, however, have refused to accept a partial release of the prisoners or to the condition that they will not return to the battlefield. Speaking to reporters, Zabihullah Mujahid said;

“Our stance on the prisoners’ release is crystal clear. They should be released without any pre-condition the way it is mentioned on the US-Taliban peace agreement […] We have not agreed to any extra dialogue or conditions.”

Afghanistan’s national security advisor, Javid Faisal maintained;

 “We are ready to start the process the way it is described in the presidential decree, but we won’t release anyone if there is no guarantee that they will not return to fighting […] The Taliban have to show flexibility".

Read more from Al Jazeera