Jan. 22 - The U.S. has not taken a decision on whether to release five prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay as part of a peace process with the Taliban. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
The US has made no decision on where to release five prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to support the peace process with the Taliban in Afghanistan. U.S. envoy Marc Grossman, following two days of talks in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai , said he agreed with Afghan government demands that any negotiations should be under the umbrella of a quote " peace process among Afghans". (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARC GROSSMAN, U.S SPECIAL ENVOY FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN, SAYING: "We haven't made any decisions and it's no surprise to any of you that this is an issue in the Unites States of law. First of all we have to meet the requirements of our law." The Taliban announced this month that the Islamist group would open a political office in Qatar as a prelude to holding peace talks with the United States and its allies. As a confidence-building measure, the Taliban called for the release of five people held at Guantanamo Bay. Grossman has been holding secret talks with Taliban negotiators for more than a year and his visit could accelerate a fresh talks within weeks now that he has the backing of Karzai. But he says for the talks to get off the ground at all the Taliban must renounce terrorism. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARC GROSSMAN, U.S SPECIAL ENVOY FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN, SAYING: "I am looking forward to the Taliban being clear about breaking ties with international terrorism, denouncing it, distancing themselves from it, and also to say that they are prepared to participate in an Afghan peace process where Afghans talk to Afghans about the future of Afghanistan." Despite the presence of more than 100,000 foreign troops, violence across Afghanistan remains at its worst levels since the Taliban were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001, according to the United Nations. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters