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Afghanistan to swap 3 Taliban prisoners with US, Aussie professors

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-11-12 15:20
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani shakes hand with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 20, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

KABUL -- The Afghan government has decided to swap three Taliban prisoners with a US professor and an Australian professor kidnapped in August 2016 in Kabul, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced on Tuesday.

Ghani named the Taliban prisoners as Annas Haqqani, Hajji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid.

"The decision was taken in close consultation with our international partners, including the United States, to pave the ground for direct talks with the Taliban and to find negotiated settlement for Afghanistan's crisis," Ghani said in an address broadcast live in state-run RTA TV.

Ghani did not give details where and when the swap of the prisoners will take place, saying the exchange would be on conditions for safe release of the professors.

The two lecturers served in American University of Afghanistan.

Annas Haqqani is the son of deceased Jalaluddin Haqqani, former leader of the Haqqani network militant group.

As a Taliban-linked militant group, the Haqqani network is mostly operating in eastern provinces and capital Kabul and responsible for many high-profile attacks on security forces.

The network was designated as a terrorist group by the United States in 2012.

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