The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad called the current pace of violence by Taliban group as ‘Too High’ as he expressed hopes that the group would adhere to its commitments to reduce violence.
Ambassador Khalilzad took to Twitter late on Tuesday after President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani signed a decree to release the first batch of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
“President Ghani issued a decree tonight to release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners starting Saturday from a list provided by the Taliban. The Taliban had already agreed to release up to 1,000 prisoners from the Afghan government side,” Ambassador Khalilzad tweeted.
He also added “I urge the two sides to sit down immediately for talks on this issue in Doha, Qatar to work out the details. The Afghan government has agreed to do so. When implemented, this will be a significant step in the peace process.”
However, he said “Despite these signs of progress, violence by the Taliban remains too high. We expect the Taliban to adhere to its commitments to reduce violence in order to allow for the release of prisoners to be implemented smoothly and the peace process to succeed.”
The State Department had earlier confirmed that the Taliban group has taken steps to stop attacks against the coalition forces and in the cities but the group is still killing too many Afghans in the countryside.
Calling the current level of violence as unacceptable, Morgan Ortagus, a State Department spokesperson said “This must change. Violence at these levels risks drawing both sides into a vicious cycle, serves no one, and undermines peace.”
This comes as efforts are underway to launch intra-Afghan dialogue following the signing of a peace deal between the United States and Taliban group late last month.
The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday signed a decree to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners on the occasion of intra-Afghan talks but the decree emphasizes that the remaining 3,500 prisoners would be released on the condition that there is a considerable reduction in violence.