MOSCOW, August 20. /TASS/. Moscow expects that difficulties related to a prisoner swap between the Kabul authorities and the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) will not hinder the launch of intra-Afghan talks, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Thursday.
"We welcome the Taliban’s move to release 1,000 military and police personnel in accordance with the February 29 agreement with the US, and expect that the Afghan president’s decision on freeing the remaining militant prisoners, which was made after a Loya Jirga meeting, will be implemented soon," she said.
Zakharova pointed to reports of new obstacles on the way to peaceful dialogue. "This is about the release of six militants involved in terrorist attacks on foreign nationals and Kabul’s recent demand to free two dozen Afghan special forces members held by the Taliban. We hope that these issues will not hinder the launch of peaceful dialogue and will be resolved in the near future," she emphasized.
According to Zakharova, an early launch of intra-Afghan talks is in the interest of both the people of Afghanistan and the country’s foreign partners.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed a decree last week on the release of the last group of Taliban prisoners on the list that the Taliban had presented during talks with the US in February. A Loya Jirga meeting earlier ruled to release the group though the Afghan authorities had been reluctant to free those militants saying that apart from being Taliban supporters they had also been involved in serious criminal offences.
The US and the Taliban signed the agreement in Qatar’s capital of Doha on February 29. According to the document, up to 5,000 Taliban supporters and up to 1,000 people held by the Taliban need to be released before the launch of intra-Afghan talks.