Taliban and Western prisoners exchange

Informal and informal peace talks on Afghanistan resume after their interruption by Trump.

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Photos taken from a video shot by the Taliban on June 21, 2017, of the two prisoners released by the Taliban: top Australian Timothy Weekes, bottom, the American Kevin King. AP

After being declared "dead" in early September by US President Donald Trump, the peace process between the Americans and the Taliban in Afghanistan has resumed in a new light. The insurgents announced on Tuesday (November 19th) that three executives of their movement have been transferred from Bagram prison, north of Kabul, to Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban representation office is located.

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The best known of them is Anas Haqqani. He is one of the sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of a dreaded network straddling the Afghan-Pakistan border, a figure in the struggle against the Soviet occupation, then a minister of the Taliban government between 1996 and 2001. His brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is number two and the military leader of the Taliban movement. The other two Taliban leaders are one of their uncles, Haji Mali Khan, and Abdul Rashid, brother of a member of the Taliban's political bureau in Qatar.

In exchange, the Taliban pledged to release two hostages, the American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weekes, two teachers, aged 63 and 50, kidnapped at the American University in Kabul on August 7, 2016. Their health would have deteriorated during their detention. Their release was confirmed on Tuesday at mid-day from US source. Announced on November 12, by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, this exchange was blocked after several attacks by the insurgents at the same time. Mr. Ghani had admitted that this decision had been " very difficult " but she was "The main condition for starting informal negotiations" to end a conflict that has lasted eighteen years.

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A coincidence "

It is clear that the peace talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban have changed in shape. No more formal meetings in Doha between the delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the movement with Mullah Omar, and the American side led by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Abandoned, for now, the hope of signing a comprehensive agreement to open an international peace conference on the future of Afghanistan. This is now a negotiation "On the water", according to the expression of a Western diplomat stationed in Kabul The world.

This peace process, a new formula, took shape on 2 October in Islamabad, Pakistan. A few days after the first round of the Afghan presidential election, the heads of the two delegations, MM. Khalilzad and Baradar, and their followers, then resumed their engagement and began discussions on this exchange of prisoners. To save appearances, both sides redoubled statements about a concomitant presence of pure chance. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said it was"Coincidence: the delegation was invited by Pakistan"while adding: "If the Americans want a meeting, we are ready. "


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