The U.S. State Department praised “the participants of the Loya Jirga to be convened on 7 August to consolidate national support for peace. We understand that they will decide on the expeditious release of the remaining Taliban prisoners from their list, the last obstacle to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations. Following the timely release of these prisoners, the Taliban have committed to enter talks with the national team… [and] significantly reduce violence and casualties during the talks”. “While the decisions and conduct of both parties to intra-Afghan negotiations will affect the size and scope of future U.S. assistance, the U.S. affirms its support for a sustainable peace and an enduring partnership with Afghanistan”, Secretary Pompeo asserted. On 9 August, the Loya Jirga approved the release of 400 Taliban prisoners. The same day, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would go “down to a number less than 5,000 before the end of November”.
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