Representatives of Russia, China, the United States and Pakistan have agreed that negotiation is the only road to peace in Afghanistan, including an early resumption of direct US talks with the Taliban. In a statement released at the end of meetings in Moscow on Friday, China, Russia and Pakistan called on Washington to return to the negotiation table with the Taliban and sign an agreement that will set the stage for Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict to start face-to-face discussions on what a post-war Afghanistan would look like.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had all but signed a peace deal with the Taliban until President Donald Trump in September declared the talks dead after a series of attacks killed several people, including a US soldier.
Earlier this month, Afghan Taliban claimed that it has freed three Indian engineers held hostage by them in a prisoner exchange deal with United States. According to reports, the Indian hostages were released for securing the release of 11 Taliban members, including some high-ranking officials of the group. The freed Afghan Taliban includes prominent leaders Sheikh Abdul Rahim and Maulvi Abdur Rashid.
Seven Indian engineers working for a power plant in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan Province were kidnapped in May 2018. One of the hostages was released in March. No group has claimed responsibility for their abduction.
The Radio Free Europe quoting some officials reported that the swap took place at an undisclosed location. The officials refused to say who the militant group exchanged the prisoners with and whether the freed Taliban members were being held by Afghan authorities or US forces in Afghanistan.