Taleban met ex-Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah: Site group

KABUL (AFP) – Senior Taleban members met former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and top official Abdullah Abdullah in the capital Kabul on Wednesday (Aug 18), according to the Site monitoring group, as the group’s senior leader ordered the release of “political detainees”.

Abdullah had led the government’s peace council during failed talks between the warring sides in Qatar. Karzai was the first Western-backed leader of the country after a US-led invasion toppled the Taleban in 2001 and remained in office until 2014.

Taleban leaders “have said that they pardoned all former government officials and thus there is no need for anyone to leave the country,” Site said, after the Taleban published images of Karzai meeting Taleban negotiator Anas Haqqani.

The head of the hardline group, Haibatullah Akhundzada, meanwhile, ordered the release of “political detainees”, the Taleban tweeted.

“From tomorrow, all provincial governors must release all political detainees – major and minor – without any restrictions or conditions, and deliver them to their families,” it said in Arabic.

The Taleban insisted on Tuesday in their first press conference since seizing power at the weekend that they would not seek “revenge” and declared a general amnesty.

A government would soon be formed, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, adding that the Taleban would “connect with all sides”.

Former president Ashraf Ghani – who succeeded Karzai in 2014 – fled the country as the Taleban encircled Kabul, taking refuge in the United Arab Emirates.

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