Reuters, Kabul : Afghanistan agreed on Sunday to release 400 "hard-core" Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks aimed at ending almost two decades of war. Under election-year pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump for a deal allowing him to bring home American troops, the war-torn country's grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, on Sunday approved the release, a controversial condition raised by the Taliban militants to join peace talks. "In order to remove an obstacle, allow the start of the peace process and an end of bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approves the release of 400 Taliban," the assembly said in a resolution. Minutes later, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced, "Today, I will sign the release order of these 400 prisoners." Last week Ghani invited some 3,200 Afghan community leaders and politicians to Kabul amid tight security and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, to advise the government on whether the prisoners should be freed. Among the 400 are Taliban members accused of major attacks against civilians and foreigners, including a 2017 truck bombing near the German embassy in Kabul that killed more than 150 -the deadliest attack in the 19-year insurgency.
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