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Afghan-Taliban talks over prisoner swap collapse, threatening to upend U.S. peace deal – The Washington Post


KABUL — The Taliban halted prisoner swap negotiations with the Afghan federal government Tuesday just after accusing leaders in Kabul of refusing to comply with a essential section of the U.S. peace offer — a key setback to what several hoped would be the get started of formal talks amongst the two Afghan sides.

Representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan governing administration were negotiating the launch of additional than a hundred prisoners. The U.S.-Taliban peace deal referred to as for countless numbers of prisoners to be launched in times of its signing, but the Afghan govt promptly objected to that timeline, citing logistical constraints.

The release was previously months powering schedule, and when the two sides lastly satisfied in Kabul, negotiators immediately hit a snag. Taliban reps required their senior leaders provided in the initial spherical of releases, whilst the Afghan federal government balked at releasing any person who had served orchestrate large-scale assaults.

The repeated delays to the start of formal talks in between the Taliban and the Afghan governing administration are threatening to upend the fragile U.S.-Taliban peace offer. Because it was signed in late February, violence in Afghanistan has escalated and a ability wrestle in excess of the Afghan presidency has deepened.

Secretary of Point out Mike Pompeo on Monday dismissed the impasse around the prisoner releases as “posturing” and reported the United States envisioned issues to arise as the two sides move towards official talks.

“There was no doubt that there would be methods ahead and methods backward,” Pompeo claimed in a information conference, incorporating that some development experienced been created given that the arrangement was signed last month. “But we see them posturing in the media.”

Pompeo traveled to Kabul on March 23 to broker a offer among President Ashraf Ghani and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani was declared the winner of the September election by a slender margin Abdullah decried the consequence as fraudulent and has threatened to established up a parallel govt. Just after Pompeo’s go to failed to take care of the crisis, he threatened to cut $one billion in U.S. assist to the nation.

Statements from Pompeo’s ­senior diplomats propose the Trump administration has improved pressure on Afghan leaders in latest days.

“Donors are discouraged and fed up by own agendas currently being state-of-the-art in advance of the welfare of the Afghan individuals,” Alice Wells, the Condition Department’s top formal for South and Central Asia, stated in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday.

Afghanistan requirements billions in foreign assist every single yr to deliver its citizens with primary companies, and specialist projections estimate the country will continue being dependent on help for many years to occur. That dependence is anticipated to be exacerbated if the coronavirus outbreak in Afghanistan worsens. Afghanistan has had additional than 400 verified coronavirus cases and 14 deaths, but officers alert that the true quantity could be a great deal larger, as screening has been minimal.

Hopes were being large when a Taliban delegation arrived in Kabul final week. The go to arrived just after Ghani declared the creation of a negotiating workforce and Abdullah issued a statement expressing his support for its customers. The Afghan governing administration and the Taliban experienced also agreed on a compromise: The prisoner releases would take place in smaller sized batches instead than all at when.

The peace offer signed by the United States and the Taliban known as for up to five,000 Taliban prisoners to be released in trade for one,000 associates of the Afghan protection forces and governing administration employees in Taliban custody.

But right after times of talks, the Taliban issued a statement Tuesday saying that the group would no for a longer period participate in “fruitless meetings” and accused the Afghan federal government of “just squandering time.” Hours afterwards, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen announced in a tweet that the Taliban delegation would return to Doha, Qatar, where by the team has a political office environment.

The Afghan federal government mentioned the Taliban’s go “indicates a deficiency of seriousness about peace,” according to a assertion from Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Afghan national security adviser’s business.

Faisal explained discussions “had entered an crucial phase” ahead of Taliban officers backed out. No matter, he extra that the Afghan govt continues to be open up to continuing talks.

But as peace talks with the Taliban are regularly delayed, violence in Afghanistan has spiked. On Sunday, the Taliban accused the United States of violating the phrases of the peace offer by carrying out assaults on Taliban fighters and drone strikes on Afghan civilians.

The Taliban statement warned that ongoing violations would “create an atmosphere of distrust that will not only destruction the agreements, but also power mujahideen to a identical response and will improve the stage of preventing.”

A U.S. armed service spokesman, Col. Sonny Leggett, denied the Taliban allegation, expressing that U.S. forces in Afghanistan are upholding the terms of the agreement and that “any assertion usually is baseless.”

Leggett said that the U.S. army will proceed to appear to the aid of Afghan forces and that the Taliban have to minimize violence.

The U.S. armed service is continuing to attract down its forces from Afghanistan, as mandated by the peace deal with the Taliban. The United States began lowering the approximately 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in March and is on keep track of to provide down the range to 8,600 by early July, inside the 135-day time time period stipulated by the peace offer.

George claimed from London. Carol Morello in Washington and Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

Afghan peace exertion inches ahead soon after U.S. threatens to slice $1 billion in assist

Afghans are fearful, angry with their warring leaders just after U.S. pulls $1 billion in help

Afghanistan is caught with a divided govt and Taliban insurgency. Now, coronavirus is spreading

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