The Taliban militant group in Afghanistan has quit talks with the government on a prisoner swap, claiming that Kabul is delaying the exchange.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s office in Qatar, took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce that a technical Taliban team would not participate in what he described as “fruitless meetings.”
Shaheen said the release of the Taliban prisoners was being “delayed under one pretext or another.”
The prisoner exchange is part of an agreement reached between the US and the militant group in February that envisages a complete withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. The Afghan government was not a party to the negotiations or the deal, but it has agreed to free the Taliban prisoners.
A spokesman for the Kabul government said it would maintain work on the prisoner plan.
“We ask the Taliban to not sabotage the process by making excuses now,” Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the National Security Council in Kabul, said.
Under the agreement involving the US, the Afghan government is required to ultimately release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and the militant group to free 1,000 government captives.
Afghan officials said last week that they would release 100 Taliban prisoners who were sick or over the age of 50, and the militant group was expected to free 20 members of the Afghan security forces in return.
But, according to Afghan government officials, the Taliban are demanding the release of top commanders involved in some of the most violent attacks in recent years.
On Sunday, the Taliban said the deal with the US was nearing a breaking point because Washington and the Afghan government were violating its terms. The militants said Kabul was delaying the release of the prisoners promised under the deal by making excuses.