Afghan peace council seeks Guantanamo visit

Afghan wants to send a delegation to secure the release of Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay prison.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2011, 11:57 AM IST

Kabul: Afghanistan`s High Council for
Peace wants to send a delegation to secure the release of
Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay prison as part of
reconciliation efforts, one of its members said on Wednesday.

Arsala Rahmani, head of the Council`s prisoner release
committee, said the delegation would call for figures
including Khairullah Khairkhwa, a top Taliban commander
detained at the US-run prison in Cuba since 2002, to be freed.

President Hamid Karzai last year set up the High
Council For Peace to seek talks with the Taliban in return for
them laying down their arms and accepting the constitution.

The Taliban have publicly rejected the peace overtures.

Rahmani added that Khairkhwa`s US lawyer had emailed
the High Council For Peace calling for his freedom and
offering the jailed militant`s help to broker peace with the
Taliban.

Karzai backs the plan to visit Guantanamo, Rahmani
added.

"We are determined to send this delegation. That is
our decision but so far, we have not contacted the US
government," he said.

If the visit is made, the delegation will "seek the
release of all Afghans detained there," he said.

Rahmani added: "We`ll be seeking the release of all
Afghans who are detained inside and outside Afghanistan" in
connection with Taliban activities.

There are thought to be around 15 Afghans currently
detained at Guantanamo.

Responding to the comments, the US embassy in Kabul
said in a statement that it supported the High Council for
Peace`s work.

But it added: "Transfers or releases of Afghan
nationals detained at Guantanamo are conducted in accordance
with the results of a comprehensive US government inter-agency
review of the status of detained individuals."

Afghanistan has been in the grip of a deadly
insurgency waged by remnants of the Taliban since their regime
was toppled in a US-led invasion in late 2001.

There are around 140,000 international troops in the
country but they are due to start limited withdrawals from
July with the Afghan police and army scheduled to take control
of security by 2010.

PTI