Afghan president signs off on Taliban prisoner release, peace talks expected in days

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  • Afghanistan’s president has approved the release of a final batch of 400 Taliban prisoners. It’s part of a prisoner exchange agreed under a deal in February between the Taliban and the U.S. And it’s expected to clear the way for long-awaited peace talks in Qatar and a cease-fire. The process will bring the United States closer to withdrawing its troops and ending its longest military engagement. The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, previously refused to talk to the Afghan government, dismissing it as a U.S. puppet.

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    In This Story: Afghanistan

    Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.

    Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is around 32 million, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.

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  • In This Story: Qatar

    Qatar is a peninsular Arab country whose terrain comprises arid desert and a long Persian (Arab) Gulf shoreline of beaches and dunes. Also on the coast is the capital, Doha, known for its futuristic skyscrapers and other ultramodern architecture inspired by ancient Islamic design, such as the limestone Museum of Islamic Art. The museum sits on the city’s Corniche waterfront promenade.

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  • In This Story: United States

    The United States is a country also known as the United States of America, USA, US or just America. There are fifty states in the union, which is a federal republic ruled by a representative democracy. Nearly ten million square kilometres are inhabited by over 300 million people. The majority of Americans speak English.

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