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Taliban Agrees To Free American, Australian Professors In Exchange For Three Taliban Members

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The Taliban agreed to free American and Australian professors in exchange for three senior Taliban members, officials on both sides said Tuesday.

The American and Australian professors, Kevin King and Timothy Weeks, who both taught English at American University of Afghanistan, were reportedly released as part of an effort by American special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, The New York Times reported citing officials.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the exchange would help to bring “peace and stability” to the country during a televised speech, according to The Washington Post.

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“In consultations with our international partners, especially the U.S., we have adopted a mechanism and approach to make sure the release of these three men wouldn’t reinforce the … enemy and intensify attacks by them,” Ghani said during his speech, according to the Post.

The Taliban abducted both professors in 2016, and their current whereabouts is unknown, the Post reported.

The three Taliban members currently being held at a government detention center that the U.S. has agreed to free are all part of the Haqqani network, an Afghan guerrilla insurgent group — one of whom is the younger brother of the Taliban’s military operations leader, according to the Post.

American University of Afghanistan said in a statement that it was “encouraged” by news of the “possible release” of King and Weeks. The university also pressed for “the immediate and safe return of our faculty members who have been held in captivity, away from friends and families, for more than three years,” the Post reported.

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