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Taliban to release 2 kidnapped professors from American University in prison exchange

Kabul, Afghanistan – Afghanistan and the Taliban have reached an agreement to release two professors at an American university, including a U.S. citizen, in exchange for three Taliban members, the Afghan president said Tuesday morning.

American Kevin King, who was abducted by insurgents in Afghanistan in August 2016. EL-EMARA Taliban via AP file

President Ashraf Ghani told national television on Tuesday that the exchange of prisoners would release two American University Professors ̵

1; US Citizen Kevin King and Australian Citizen Timothy Weeks. The two were abducted by the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in August 2016.

Taliban commanders Anas Hakani, Hajji Maali Khan and Abdul Rashid Hakani will also be released, the president said. Ghani said the three were members of the Haqqani-affiliated Taliban network and were released on parole for both professors, the Associated Press reported.

The American University of Afghanistan said in a statement that "we are encouraged to hear reports of the possible release of our two colleagues, Kevin King and Timothy Wicks. "

" While AUAF is not part of these discussions, we continue to insist on the immediate and safe return of our captive faculty. away from their friends and family for more than three years, "the university says.

Ghani said in a statement on state television on Tuesday that the release of prominent insurgents was a very difficult decision he made in the interests of the Afghans, According to the Associated Press

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The release of Taliban officials is intended to show the Afghan government's desire for peace talks, said the President.

Ghani stated that the decision by the government o Afghanistan to release Taliban

In January, senior Taliban officials said peace talks with the United States stalled after a US delegation requested a military group announce a ceasefire and release the King. [19659005] Taliban commander calling the alleged request "unrealistic." The Taliban said King was gravely ill.

In September, US President Donald Trump announced that he was ending "peace talks" with the Taliban after the U.S. Desk was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul.

Trump tweeted at a time when he was scheduled to hold a second reunion at Camp David with the Taliban leadership and separately with the President of Afghanistan.

The peace talks are aimed at ending the longest war in the United States.

Taliban fighters have waged battles against US, NATO and Afghanistan government forces ever since they were overthrown in 2001 after their government sheltered Governor Osama bin Laden on September 11th.

President Barack Obama announced the official end of the US military mission in Afghanistan in December 2014, but some 13,000 US forces remain in the country on a mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan forces in a NATO mission.

Anas Hakani is the son of Jalaluddin Hakani, who founded the Hakani terrorist network under his name in the 1970s and is said to have died following an illness in 2018. Anas Haqqani has been in custody in Afghanistan since October 2014 when the US security forces boarded it during a trip to Qatar from Bahrain.

Last year, his name topped the list of those whom the Taliban said should be released, and

The Haqqani Network owns Sgt. Bow Bergdahl captured for five years. In 2014, the Taliban received five senior commanders in exchange for a US soldier in a deal brokered by Qatar.

A U.S. military judge in 2017 spared Bergdahl from prison for leaving Afghanistan in 2009, condemning him for disrespectful discharge and lowering his rank, but no time behind bars. He pleaded guilty to desertion and misconduct against the enemy.

Ahmed Mengli reports from Kabul, Afghanistan, Mustak Yusufzai from Peshawar, Pakistan, and Phil Helsel from Los Angeles.

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