Afghan peace deal hits first snag over prisoner releases

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Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of of the peace signing ceremony between the United States and the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, 2020. – Washington and the Taliban are set to sign a landmark deal in Doha that would see them agree to the withdrawal of thousands of US troops from Afghanistan in return for insurgent guarantees. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghanistan’s president says he will not free thousands of Taliban prisoners ahead of all-Afghan power-sharing talks set for next week, publicly disagreeing with a timetable laid out just a day earlier in a U.S.-Taliban peace deal.

President Ashraf Ghani’s comments point to the first hitch in implementing the fragile deal, which is aimed at ending America’s longest war and getting rival Afghan factions to agree on their country’s future.

Qatar’s foreign minister tells The Associated Press in an interview that a prisoner swap is an important confidence-building measure.

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