Afghan prisoner swap for American, Australian did not occur -diplomat

Cheryl Sanders
November 13, 2019

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul Ghani announced the conditional release of Anas Haqqani, his uncle Mali Khan and Abdur Rashid.

The three Taliban prisoners include Anas Haqqani, who was seized in 2014 and whose older brother is the deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani network, a notorious Taliban affiliate. The Taliban has long demanded his release, insisting he is a student.

"The decision was taken in close consultation with our global partners, including the U.S., to pave the ground for direct talks with the Taliban and to find a negotiated settlement for Afghanistan's crisis", Ghani stated in an deal with broadcast reside in state-run RTA TV. A Taliban spokesman earlier this year said that the movement was determined to obtain Anas Haqqani's release and named him as a member of a negotiating team that would hold talks with USA officials.

He further said that the dead were all civilians, adding "This is the initial information, more details later".

"We sincerely appreciate President Ghani's concern for Tim Weeks and Kevin King, and hope the Taliban immediately releases the hostages", a spokesperson said.

Under the terms of the deal, the two AUAF professors, Kevin C. King, an American, and Timothy J. Weeks, an Australian, will be released in exchange for the release of three senior Taliban members.

A Pakistani delegation, including the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence, was in Kabul to meet Afghan authorities on Monday.

Photo taken on November 13, 2019 shows a damaged vehicle at the site of an attack in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan.

"When our captives reach their destination, the American University professors will be released", he said.

In Tuesday's address, Ghani added that the Taliban kidnapping of the two American University teachers was not representative of Islamic and Afghan traditions.

A Taliban spokesman told VOA he knew of Ghani's announcement. "While AUAF is not part of these discussions, we continue to urge the immediate and safe return of our faculty members who have been held in captivity, away from their friends and families, for more than three years", the statement read.

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