Afghan Government Objects to Elements of U.S.-Taliban Peace Deal by Susannah George and Dan Lamothe - Washington Post
KABUL — The Afghan government objected Sunday to parts of the historic peace deal between the United States and the Taliban, showing the difficulties that lie ahead for the country as the 18-year conflict enters a new phase.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, speaking at a news conference less than 24 hours after the agreement was signed, questioned several elements of the deal, including the timeline for a controversial prisoner exchange and the conditions surrounding the start of talks between the Taliban and his government.
The U.S.-Taliban deal, the result of talks from which the Afghan government was excluded, charts a path for the full withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country it invaded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It stipulates that talks between the Taliban and Ghani’s government must begin by March 10 — at which point the sides must have completed a prisoner exchange.
The Taliban has long demanded the release of 5,000 of its fighters held by the Afghan government. But officials in Kabul see the prisoners as a key piece of leverage to be used during their talks with the militants…
Afghan President Casts Doubt On Key Aspect Of U.S.-Taliban Peace Deal – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has questioned a key component of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan.
Ghani told a news briefing in the capital, Kabul, on March 1 that his government has made no commitment to free up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as set out in the February 29 agreement.
The Western-backed Kabul government was not a signatory of the bilateral U.S.-Taliban deal.
"There is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners," Ghani said, adding that any prisoner release was "not in the authority of the U.S., it is in the authority of the Afghan government."
"This is the right and the self-will of the people of Afghanistan,” Ghani added. “It could be included in the agenda of the intra-Afghan talks, but cannot be a prerequisite for talks."…