Three members of Afghanistan’s Taliban have arrived in Kabul to “monitor” the government’s release of imprisoned Taliban militants as part of a peace deal signed by the Taliban and the United States in late February, the militant group says.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the “technical” team arrived in Kabul on March 31, marking the first time an official Taliban delegation has been in the Afghan capital since the group was driven from power by U.S.-led forces in November 2001.
There was no immediate comment from Afghan government officials about the Taliban team’s arrival.
But Jawed Faisal, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Adviser’s office, said the Afghan government and the Taliban had agreed that the militants should send a team to Kabul for face-to-face talks on the release of prisoners.
The proposed release is part of a deal signed by the United States and the Taliban in Doha on February 29. It calls for the Afghan government to release 5,000 detained Taliban fighters as a confidence-building measure ahead of formal peace talks.
The Taliban has vowed to release 1,000 Afghan government troops and civilian workers it is holding.
Under the U.S.-Taliban deal, Taliban representatives also agreed to commit to direct talks with the Afghan government aimed at ending the country’s 18-year conflict.
In return for the start of talks and a series of security commitments from the Taliban, all U.S. troops and other foreign coalition forces are meant to withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months.