The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a United States’ resolution on the recent deal between the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban, a rare endorsement of an agreement with a militant group.
The U.S. military has begun withdrawing troops as part of the pullout agreed in the February 29 pact with the Taliban.
The United States is keen to end its longest-ever conflict, and under the terms of a deal signed in Doha last month has said all foreign forces would withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months – provided the Taliban stick to their security commitments.
In the resolution, the Security Council “urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to advance the peace process, including by participating in intra-Afghan negotiations through a diverse and inclusive negotiating team composed of Afghan political and civil society leaders, including women.”
Some diplomats expressed unease that the agreement included two secret appendices on the fight against terrorism that Council members approved without knowing what they say.
The U.N. resolution came with Afghanistan in political crisis, following the double swearing-in on Monday of President Ashraf Ghani and his rival and former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, both of whom claimed victory in last year’s presidential election.
Taliban Prisoner Release
A spokesman for Ghani said Wednesday that the Afghan government will gradually release 5,000 Taliban prisoners starting this week if the insurgents significantly reduce violence, one of the key points in a U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Qatar last month.
The government will “release 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a gesture of goodwill” starting Saturday, with another 3,500 to be freed after negotiations begin, Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter.
The release will depend on the Taliban’s willingness to significantly limit attacks in the country, he added.
The decision attempts to resolve one of the key disputes between the insurgents and the Afghan government.
Although the Taliban were due to start talks with Kabul on Tuesday, negotiations were delayed because the insurgents had demanded the release of 5,000 prisoners in return for 1,000 captives as a prerequisite for talks.
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