US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country welcomes the release of hostages including US professor Kevin King and Australian professor Timothy Weeks, who were successfully released this morning, noting that they are in the care of the US military.
The US secretary added that King and Weeks went to Afghanistan to teach at the American University there, considering it an opportunity to help educate the young people in the country, and during more than three years of their capture, they paid a high price for their work, stressing that the United States condemns the detention of innocent civilians as hostages.
Pompeo explained that the Taliban announced the release of the professors shows a goodwill signal welcomed by the United States, pointing out that Washington also welcomes the imminent release of ten Afghan prisoners, and the release of the Afghan government of three prisoners by the Taliban, stressing that his country considers these Developments are hopeful signs that the Afghan war, which has been a heinous and expensive conflict for 40 years, may soon end with a political settlement.
The Secretary of State noted that the United States commends President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan government for making this progress as part of the work to strengthen and reform the Afghan security forces.
He pointed out that over the past two years, President Ghani has offered a dialogue with the Taliban without preconditions to achieve peace in their country.
Pompeo stressed that the United States also commends many Afghan politicians who put their political differences aside and did not use these developments for personal political gain.
Hostages swap came after long negotiations between the US government and the Taliban
He added that, adding to the reduction of violence in the Afghan capital Kabul over the past few days, these developments give hope for the success of peace negotiations between Afghans, which the United States is always ready to support.
The three militants arrived in Qatar from Afghanistan as part of the swap.
Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid were sent to Qatar as part of the exchange.
Haqqani is a leading figure in the Haqqani group, a militant group founded by his father Jalaluddin Haqqani, and now led by his older brother, Sirajuddin, who is also deputy leader of the Taliban,
First video of captives emerged on January 17, 2017, soon after US authorities engaged with the Afghan government for the release of US professors Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks. The hostages swap came after tough negotiations between the US government and the Taliban.
Afghan officials say the deal is aimed at restarting talks with the Taliban.
President Ashraf Ghani said last week the decision was “a tough, but important” one and a “humanitarian gesture”.