Code 171681
PublishDate: Sunday, June 23, 2013 09:26

Afghanistan urges Pakistan to free Taliban prisoners

If the Taliban do not address concerns, “We may have to consider whether or not the office has to be closed. "

Pakistan could secure peace in Afghanistan by releasing dozens of senior Taliban prisoners to help kick-start the process, the Afghan foreign ministry said on Saturday, in remarks that underscore the issues vexing peace talks in Qatar.

The ministry’s statement was a response to comments by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, which welcomed the opening of a Taliban office in the Qatari capital of Doha, saying the country stood “ready to continue to facilitate the (peace) process to achieve lasting peace”.

“(If) Pakistan has the sincere determination to support the Afghan peace process ... then the most useful and urgent step would be to release those Afghan Taliban leaders who have been arrested by Pakistani authorities,” the Afghan foreign ministry said.

“The release of these prominent Taliban leaders would provide the High Peace Council of Afghanistan with the opportunity to start peace talks with them,” it added, referring to a body set up by President Hamid Karzai in 2010 to seek a negotiated end to the 12-year war with a Taliban-led insurgency.

AFP adds: The United States has warned that it could call on the Taliban to close the Qatar office unless it shows more commitment to reconciliation in Afghanistan.US special envoy James Dobbins arrived in the Gulf Arab monarchy and was taking part in talks with Qatar alongside Secretary of State John Kerry.

But Kerry said that the United States was not yet ready to meet the Taliban and accused the rebels of failing to live up to their side of peace efforts.“It is our hope that this could ultimately be an important step in reconciliation if it’s possible. We know that it may well not be possible,” Kerry told reporters in Doha.

If the Taliban do not address concerns, “We may have to consider whether or not the office has to be closed.” “It is really up to the Taliban to make that choice,” he said, calling a feud in the past week “the first real test of whether the Taliban are prepared to do their part”.
(The News)

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