KABUL: The Taliban will not participate in intra-Afghan dialogue until around 5,000 of its prisoners are set free from jails, their spokesperson said on Monday.
“If our 5,000 prisoners — 100 or 200 more or less does not matter — do not get released, there will be no intra-Afghan talks,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by phone.
A pact signed between the United States and the Taliban in Doha on Saturday said up to 5,000 jailed Taliban would be released by March 10, however Afghan president Ashraf Ghani on Sunday rejected the demand.
The Doha agreement was signed by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Under it, Washington committed to a full withdrawal in 14 months, and to working with allied international forces to do the same — contingent on the Taliban keeping a pledge to renounce violence and sever ties with militant organisations threatening the US and its allies.
Shortly after the deal was signed, Afghan President Ghani pushed back against a clause in the deal that calls for the Taliban to release up to 1,000 prisoners and for the Afghan government to release up to 5,000 prisoners.
“There is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners,” Ghani said.