Kabul, March 1 (IANS) Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Saunday refused the Taliban’s demand for the release of 5,000 detainees within 10 days, saying no precondition was acceptable for initiating intra-Afghan talks.
“No commitment has been made for the release of 5,000 prisoners. This could be included at the agenda of the talks with the Taliban and if anyone released should not take arm against the people of Afghanistan,” Ghani told reporters at the Presidential Palace here, a day after the signing of the highly-anticipated US-Taliban peace deal in Doha on Saturday.
Ghani was responding to senior representative at Taliban’s liaison office in Doha, Sher Mohammad Abas Stanikzai remarks on Saturday that the “Kabul administration should release 5,000 inmates within 10 days” as a precondition for initiating intra-Afghan dialogue, reports Xinhua news agency.
“The release of the Taliban detainees is within the authority of the government of Afghanistan and not with the US, and we have no agreement with America in this field,” the President further said.
Ghani also noted that his government would spare no effort to ensure the restoration of lasting peace in Afghanistan and safeguard all the achievements and values including the rights of women achieved over the past 18 years.
Following rounds of talks between the US and the Taliban, which lasted about 18 months, the two sides inked the that required Washington to reduce its forces to 8,600 from the current 13,000-strong force within 135 days of signing the deal.
The US and the allies would proportionally reduce their military strength in Afghanistan if the Taliban comply with the agreement and reduce the violent to the level of ceasefire.
Ghani also expressed hope that the so-called reduction in violence should turned into ceasefire across the country to pave the way for returning viable peace in Afghanistan.
The withdrawal of all the Washington-led coalition forces would take 14 months if the Taliban adhere to the agreement and avoid committing violence in the country, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a joint press conference with Ghani here on Saturday.