Holiday truce lifts Afghan hopes

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 25 May 2020

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed yesterday to speed up the release of Taleban prisoners and said he was ready to hold peace talks "immediately" with the insurgents after they made a ceasefire offer.

The Taleban offered a three-day truce over the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which Ghani swiftly accepted.

"As a responsible government we take one more step forward - I announce that I will expedite the Taleban prisoner releases," Ghani said in an address to the nation marking the holiday.

A US-Taleban deal signed in February stipulated that the government would release up to 5,000 Taleban prisoners while the insurgents would free about 1,000 Afghan security force personnel.

The prisoner swap is seen as a confidence-building move ahead of long-awaited talks between the government and Taleban. Government negotiators would be headed by Ghani's former bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah

Kabul has so far released about 1,000 Taleban inmates, while the insurgents have freed about 300 Afghan security force personnel.

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