Just hours after the “momentous” signing of the peace deal between the United States and the Taliban on February 29, the militant group's political chief has reportedly met with senior diplomats from countries including Russia, Indonesia, and Norway. According to international reports, the US President Donald Trump will also meet the hardline Islamist group after the peace accord was signed between US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban's political chief Abdul Ghani Baradar with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the witness of the ceremony in Qatar's capital, Doha.
According to media reports, Taliban's spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid has also said that the diplomats who met Baradar expressed their commitments towards the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. He also added that the Taliban's political chief received “congratulatory messages” after the peace accord was signed aimed at ending the 18-year-long conflict in the country but also thanked the dignitaries in return.
While the US has promised the Taliban to release 5,000 prisoners of the militant group, the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has rejected the demand on March 1 as the condition for intra-Afghan talks. Ghani's statement reportedly came against the backdrop of the struggles faced by the American negotiators in steering Kabul administration and Taliban towards peace talks. After countless meetings when US and Taliban finally signed the accord, Ghani has said that the partial truce will continue “with goal” of reaching a full ceasefire but declined to release the Taliban prisoners and cited the “right and self-will” of Afghan citizens.
Ghani said, “There is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners. This is the right and the self-will of the people of Afghanistan. It could be included in the agenda of the intra-Afghan talks, but cannot be a prerequisite for talks”.
According to international reports, the agreement says that the US and the Taliban were committed to working towards the release of combat and political prisoners as a confidence-building measure with the coordination of all relevant sides. The agreement had also said that in exchange of freeing 5,000 jailed Taliban personnel, it would release 1,000 Afghan government captives on March 10. However, Afghan President has now claimed that “it is not in the authority of the United States to decide” and also called Washington “only a facilitator”.
The deal was signed in a conference room of luxury Doha hotel, with Taliban fighter-turned-dealmaker, Mullah Baradar alongside Washington's chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad and the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Reportedly, as Baradar and Khalilzad finally inked the accord, the people in the room shouted, “Allahu Akbar”. Before that Pompeo had also urged the insurgents to “keep your promises to cut ties with Al-Qaeda”.