France calls on Afghans not to release Taliban convicted of killing French people

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FILE PHOTO: Newly released Taliban prisoners walk to Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul, Afghanistan August 13, 2020. Afghanistan National Security Council / Document via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – France has called on the Afghan government not to include Taliban fighters convicted of murdering French citizens in a prisoner release deal, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

The Afghan government has agreed to release 400 “hard-core” prisoners as part of the move towards peace talks with Taliban militants, and an official said on Friday that 80 of those convicted have been released to date.

“France is particularly concerned by the presence, among those likely to be released, of several terrorists convicted of having killed French people in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“He strongly opposes the release of individuals convicted of crimes against French nationals, in particular soldiers and aid workers,” he said.

“As a result, we immediately called on the Afghan authorities not to proceed with the release of these terrorists.”

The disagreement over the release of the prisoners, which includes those accused in connection with some of Afghanistan’s bloodiest attacks, has already delayed peace talks by months as the United States withdraws troops under an agreement signed with the Taliban in February.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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