The U.S. special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad has warned that coronavirus poses a mortal threat amid political crisis in Afghanistan.

“This crisis undermines security. Coronavirus poses a mortal threat and requires Afghans to put their country, and its people, first. It is a matter of life and death,” he said in a Twitter post.

Khalilzad further added “It is time for Afghans to compromise and put their differences aside to resolve the political crisis resulting from elections and dual inaugurations.”

He also added ” Coronavirus makes prisoner releases urgent; time is of the essence. We are committed to do our part and after consultation with all relevant sides, the United States understands.”

“The United States would like to see prisoner releases begin as soon as possible in line with the U.S.-Taliban agreement. No prisoners have been released to date despite the commitment to do so expressed by both sides,” Khalilzad added.

The U.S. and Taliban signed a peace deal late last month after almost 18 months of negotiations in Qatari capital of Doha.

Counter-terrorism assurances, intra-Afghan talks, ceasefire and troop withdrawal were among the key topics the sides held in-depth discussions before signing the peace deal.

The Taliban group is awaiting the release of at least 5,000 prisoners from Afghan jails before launching the intra-Afghan talks.

The Afghan government however opposed the release of all 5,000 prisoners and President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree earlier last week stating that the government would conditionally release the prisoners in three stages with the first batch of 1,500 prisoners to be released on 14th March.

Coronavirus outbreak in Afghanistan

The authorities in Afghanistan have so far recorded at least 22 positive cases of coronavirus across the country.

The local officials in Ghor province on Wednesday said three Afghan nationals died due to an illness after returning to the province from the neighboring Iran.

The officials in Ministry of Public Health are saying that all coronavirus cases in Afghanistan have links with the travel of the passengers to Iran.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that the return of the Afghan refugees on a large scale from Iran could result to further outbreak of the disease in Afghanistan.


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