An Afghan grand assembly of elders, known as the Loya Jirga, on Sunday passed a resolution to release 400 Taliban prisoners, and President Ashraf Ghani said he will sign the order, effectively removing one of the most important barriers to peace talks between the government and the Taliban, who have been in conflict for decades.
The United States and the Taliban had previously agreed the latter would enter talks with the Afghan government if it released 5,000 prisoners, most of whom have already been freed. But Kabul was hesitant to release the final 400, many of whom are accused of serious offenses, with more than 150 of them on death row. The Loya Jirga said they wanted guarantees the Taliban would not return to the battlefield during negotiations, and Ghani said "the choice is in the Taliban's hands ... the Taliban should show today they don't fear a nationwide cease-fire."
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