Press Trust of india

US welcomes release of Taliban prisoners, commends Afghan Loya Jirga

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Washington:  Commending the participants of the Afghan Loya Jirga to consolidate the national support for peace, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has welcomed the move to expeditiously release the remaining Taliban prisoners, which he said was the last obstacle to begin the intra-Afghan negotiations.

Hours ahead of the convening of the Loya Jirga — a large assembly of Afghan leaders — Pompeo said that after 40 years of war, bloodshed and destruction, the parties are ready to embark on a political process to reach a negotiated settlement.

The Loya Jirga is understood to be deciding on the expeditious release of the remaining Taliban prisoners from their list, the last obstacle to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.

“We acknowledge that the release of these prisoners is unpopular. But this difficult action will lead to an important result long sought by Afghans and Afghanistan’s friends: reduction of violence and direct talks resulting in a peace agreement and an end to the war,” Pompeo said.

In his statement, he urged Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, and other Afghan leaders, including participants of the Loya Jirga, to take advantage of the historic opportunity for a peace that benefits all Afghans and contributes to the regional stability and global security.

Reiterating that the Trump administration remains committed to partnership with Afghanistan, Pompeo said that as ever, the US seeks a sovereign, unified and democratic Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbours.

“At the same time, we are committed to reducing the burden on the US taxpayer and the risk to the US troops,” he said.

Asserting that the terror threats emanating from Afghanistan should never again pose a threat to the US and its allies, Pompeo said that the US is prepared to maintain substantial security assistance to Afghan security partners to achieve that objective.

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