Afghan government and the Taliban held a “virtual” meeting to discuss prisoner releases on Sunday, according to officials.

Afghan government and the Taliban held a “virtual” meeting to discuss prisoner releases on Sunday, according to officials.

US special representative on Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad says the two sides spoke for two hours in a Skype meeting facilitated by the U.S. and Qatar.

“Everyone knows clearly that the threat of Coronavirus makes the release of prisoners urgent,” U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted.
“All sides reaffirmed their firm commitment to reducing violence, inter-Afghan negotiations, and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. We also agreed on the next technical meeting in the next couple of days,” Khalilzad added.
“Everyone clearly understands the coronavirus threat makes prisoner releases that much more urgent,” he said. “All sides conveyed their strong commitment to a reduction of violence, intra-Afghan negotiations, and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.”

The office of NSC also said in a statement that the Peace Initial Contact Group (PICG) of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan met virtually with Taliban representatives.
“All sides emphasized the importance of a reduction in violence, direct negotiations, and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,” ONSC said.

During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on initial technical steps required to pave the way forward on prisoner releases.

The Taliban’s Doha office spokesman Suhail Shaheen confirmed the meeting on Twitter but stressed it was only about the release of prisoners.
“Other issues will be dealt with during the intra-Afghan negotiations,” he added.


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