Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected a Taliban request for the release of 5,000 prisoners as a prerequisite for talks with the Afghan government and civilians contained in an agreement between the United States and the Taliban Group.
His comments are based on the difficulties that US negotiators, according to western diplomats, face in leading the Afghan government and the Taliban to intra-Afghan negotiations.
"The Afghan government has made no commitment to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners," Ashraf Ghani told reporters in Kabul the day after the Qatar agreement was signed to reach a political agreement to end the longest-running war in the United States.
The agreement said that the United States and the Taliban were required to work swiftly to release prisoners of war and political prisoners as a confidence-building measure, with all relevant sides coordinated and approved.
By March 10, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners are to be released in exchange for up to 1,000 Afghan government prisoners.
Regarding the prisoner exchange, however, he said, "It is not the authority of the United States to decide, they are only an intermediary."
The Saturday agreement was signed by U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who were testified by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
After the ceremony, the political head of the Taliban met with foreign ministers from Norway, Turkey and Uzbekistan as well as diplomats from Russia, Indonesia and the neighbors in Doha. This is a sign of the group's determination to secure international legitimacy.
"The dignitaries who met Mullah Baradar have expressed their commitment to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan … the US-Taliban agreement is historic," said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.
US President Donald Trump declined to criticize the deal and said he would meet the Taliban leaders in the near future.
Ashraf Ghani's aides said Donald Trump's decision to meet the Taliban could pose a challenge to the government when U.S. troops are imminent.
Under the agreement, Washington has committed to reducing the number of its troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 within 135 days of signature.
It will also work with allies to proportionally reduce the number of coalition forces in Afghanistan during this period if the Taliban respects its security guarantees and ceasefire.
A full withdrawal of all US and coalition forces would take place within 14 months, the joint statement said.
The withdrawal, however, depends on security guarantees from the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, and imposed many restrictions on women and activities they considered "un-Islamic".
After the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, they waged a violent uprising.
The Afghan war has been a deadlock for over 18 years. The Taliban are increasingly controlling or occupying territories, but are unable to conquer and hold key urban centers.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)