12 countries offered to host intra-Afghan talks: Minister

Kabul: An Afghan Minister said here on Thursday that 12 countries have offered to host the intra-Afghan talks as per the US-Taliban peace deal signed in February.

Addressing the media, Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar said the 12 countries included Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Indonesia and Japan, reports TOLO News.

Atmar also said that the Afghan government has released 4,400 Taliban prisoners so far although the Taliban wants the release of 5,000.

He said that 600 more prisoners have not been released because of “serious problems”.

“The government has asked the Taliban to handover a new list for 600 more prisoners,” the Acting Minister said, adding the militant group “must show goodwill” for the beginning of the intra-Afghan talks.

On Wednesday, the Taliban freed 30 Afghan government prisoners in Helmand, and sources said that the group resisted the release of some of them, TOLO News reported.

So far, the Taliban has released 845 Afghan government prisoners.

The US-Taliban deal signed on February 29 in Doha has remained unimplemented in some parts, such as a reduction in violence and intra-Afghan negotiations, which should have happened 135 days after the accord.

The intra-Afghan talks have not begun, and violence has not been reduced.

Monday was the 136th day after the peace deal was signed.

Meanwhile, Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement Tuesday that US troops have withdrawn from five military bases and reduced the size of its forces in Afghanistan as part of the agreement reached with the Taliban in February.

NATO has around 12,000 troops under the Resolute Support mission, which includes a portion of the 8,600 total US troops, according to the Resolute Support mission.