Nov 12, 2019

Ghani: Taliban to free American University hostages in prisoner swap

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images

The Afghan government will release three high-ranking militants on the condition that the Taliban frees two American University professors, President Ashraf Ghani announced Tuesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The teachers, U.S. citizen Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, were captured by the Taliban outside the American University's Kabul campus in 2016, per AP.

  • Ghani said in a TV address he planned to release the "two senior Taliban commanders and a leader of the Haqqani militant group" in order to "pave the way for a face-to-face negotiations" with the militant group, Reuters reports.
  • He said he consulted with the "international community" and the U.S. before making the decision, per NBC News.

Go deeper: Trump orders stepped-up military operations in Afghanistan

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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Taliban releases 2 Westerners in prisoner swap

American University campus in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

The Taliban on Tuesday released an Australian and American they held for three years, as part of an exchange for three senior insurgent leaders, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The release of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks comes two months after peace talks between the Taliban and U.S. failed. The officials who brokered the deal hope it will restart the talks, per the Times. The Taliban has said "they will stand by the terms negotiated" with American peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, the Times writes.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019

Trump says U.S. has renewed peace talks with Taliban

Trump at a surprise visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on Nov. 28, 2019. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump says he has relaunched peace negotiations with the Taliban.

What he's saying: Trump said in a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Thursday that he believes the Taliban wants a ceasefire, per pool reports, and he wants to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 12-13,000 to 8,600.

Go deeperArrowNov 28, 2019

U.S. and Taliban restart peace talks in Qatar

Taliban leaders during peace talks with the U.S. in July in Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. and the Taliban reopened peace talks in Qatar on Saturday, nearly three months after President Trump abruptly called diplomatic negotiations off, Al Jazeera reports.

Why it matters: These renewed efforts are key to paving the way for direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul to end a more than 18-year war, AP notes. The first goal for the U.S. is to encourage the Taliban to reduce violence, and ultimately agree to a permanent cease fire. The group has carried out numerous deadly attacks since talks fell apart earlier this year.

Go deeperArrowDec 7, 2019