The agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban after a seven-day period of reduced violence in Afghanistan does send a positive signal, but hurdles
The government has decided to free top militant commander Anas Haqqani and two other Taliban commanders in a prisoner swap, a deal that could pave the way for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
An official who declined to be named said that Ghani, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Ghani's political rival Abdullah Abdullah were continuing meetings on Monday morning.
The US-Taliban deal signed on Feb. 29 was touted as Washington's effort to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan. The next crucial step was to be intra-Afghan talks in which all factions including the Taliban would negotiate a road map for their country's future.
The violence comes even as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last week announced his 21-member team to negotiate peace with the Taliban, only to have his political opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, reject it as not inclusive enough.
Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen in a message to The Associated Press said the insurgent group doesn't know who the government is releasing without verification. He said the Taliban withdrew a technical team to oversee the releases because of delays by the government.
According to a pool report from a journalist accompanying Pompeo, the top US diplomat was welcomed by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — the lead US negotiator in recent talks with the Taliban — after arriving at Kabul airport.
In the southern province of Zabul, Taliban forces attacked government security outposts, killing at least 11 soldiers, also on Sunday, police said. The ministry of defence said on Twitter six soldiers were killed in those clashes.
Ashraf Ghani appears to have beaten out his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah, who serves as the country’s chief executive in a fragile national unity government.
Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington "not to waste" the opportunity offered by the deal to end America's longest war in a message released ahead of next week's Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.