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Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani during a press conference on March 1. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said on Sunday that he will not release 5,000 Taliban prisoners ahead of peace talks next week, as laid out in a peace agreement that the U.S. signed with the Taliban on Saturday, according to AP.

Why it matters: Ghani’s public disagreement with the contents of the agreement presents the first major hurdle in its implementation, which is crucial to ending America’s longest war.

What they're saying: Ghani said in a news conference that the U.S. could not promise a prisoner swap because it is his government's sovereign right to release and accept prisoners. He said he is not ready to release prisoners before negotiations begin.

  • “The request has been made by the United States for the release of prisoners and it can be part of the negotiations but it cannot be a precondition,” Ghani said.

The other side: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would not directly address Ghani's comments in an interview on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday, instead saying that the U.S. "will work with all relevant parties to build on confidence, to create confidence-building measures amongst all of the parties, the Afghan government, non-Taliban, and others in the Afghan."

  • "No one is under any illusion that this will be straightforward," Pompeo said. "We've built an important base where we can begin to bring American soldiers home, reduce the risk of the loss of life of any American in Afghanistan, and hopefully set the conditions so the Afghan people can build out a peaceful resolution to their, now what for them is a 40-year struggle."

Go deeper: U.S. reaches "huge milestone moment" in Afghanistan peace process

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.